Thursday, April 26, 2007
Ornithology 301: Hybrid Warblers
It has long been known that birds occasionally, though rarely, interbreed -- a male of one species will mate with a female of another, yielding often interesting results. Nowhere are the results more colorful and fascinating than in warblers, the tiny songbirds that are already seemingly infinite in variety. An informative article at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology website gives us a "mystery bird": while educating the reader about hybridization, the article offers a challenge for sharp-eyed birders to identify a recently discovered hybrid's parentage. Caveat -- this is for serious birders who want a) a tough challenge for the eye, and b) an introduction to a fairly advanced topic in ornithology, although it's written for the average reader and no knowledge of difficult science is assumed. I found it fascinating, and, for the record, I didn't identify either of the bird's parents correctly!