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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Setophaga coronata

At one time the Yellow-Rumped Warbler was classified as separate species: the Audubon’s Warbler (Dendroica coronata auduboni) in the west, and the Myrtle Warbler (Dendroica coronata coronata) in the east. We rarely see the Myrtle Warbler on the west coast of the USA. The Audubon’s Warbler is very commonly found here.  In 1973, we classified them as the same species, but separate subspecies. Genetic studies from 2006 suggest it is less than clear whether these birds should be classified as full species or continue as subspecies in their taxonomy. My money’s on a split.

I learned there are two more members of the Yellow-Rumped complex: the Black-Fronted Warbler (Dendroica coronata nigrifrons) from northern Mexico, and the Goldman’s Warbler (Dendroica coronata goldmani) from southern Mexico and Guatemala.

A more recent move in this “name-game” is the change in genus applied to this complex. No longer is Dendroica (belonging to a tree) use for these birds, now Setophaga (moth eater) is the preferred name <sigh>.

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