Yellow Red-poll Warbler
I most willingly acknowledge the error under which I laboured many years, in believing that this species and the Sylvia palmarum of BONAPARTE, are distinct from each other. To the sound judgment of my good friend JOHN BACHMAN, I am indebted for convincing me that the figure given by the Prince of MUSIGNANO is that of our present bird, at a different period of life, and therefore with different plumage. While at Charleston, in the winter and spring of 1833-4, I became convinced of my error, after examining a great number of specimens, in different states of plumage. All these individuals had the same habits, and uttered the same notes. I may here remark, that the true Sylvia palmarum has not yet been met with in the United States.
The Yellow Red-poll Warbler is extremely abundant in the Southern States, from the beginning of November to the first of April, when it migrates northward. It is one of the most common birds in the Floridas during winter, especially along the coasts, where they are fond of the orchards and natural woods of orange trees. In Georgia and South Carolina they are also very abundant, and are to be seen gambolling, in company with the Yellow-rumped Warbler, on the trees that ornament the streets of the cities and villages, or those of the planter's yard. They approach the piazzas and enter the gardens, in search of insects, on which they feed principally on the wing, now and then securing some by moving slowly along the branches. It never removes from one spot to another, without uttering a sharp twit, and vibrating its tail in the manner of the Wagtails of Europe, though less frequently. I never saw this species in Pennsylvania in summer, although occasionally in the month of May it is to be seen for a few days. It is very rare in Maine; but I found it abundant in Newfoundland and Labrador, where I seldom passed a day without searching for its nest, although I am sorry to say, in vain. In the month of August the old birds were feeding their young all around us, and preparing to return to milder winter quarters.
Nothing can be more gladdening to the traveller, when passing through the uninhabited woods of East Florida, than the wild orange groves which he sometimes meets with. As I approached them, the rich perfume of the blossoms, the golden hue of the fruits, that hung on every twig, and lay scattered on the ground, and the deep green of the glossy leaves, never failed to produce the most pleasing effect on my mind. Not a branch has suffered from the pruning-knife, and the graceful form of the tree retains the elegance it received from nature. Raising their tops into the open air, they allow the uppermost blossoms and fruits to receive the unbroken rays of the sun, which one might be tempted to think are conveyed from flower to flower, and from fruit to fruit, so rich and balmy are all. The pulp of these fruits quenches your thirst at once, and the very air you breathe in such a place refreshes and reinvigorates you. I have passed through groves of these orange trees fully a mile in extent. Their occurrence is a sure indication of good land, which in the south-eastern portion of that country is rather scarce. The Seminole Indians and poorer Squatters feed their horses on oranges, which these animals seem to eat with much relish. The immediate vicinity of a wild orange grove is of some importance to the planters, who have the fruit collected and squeezed in a horse-mill. The juice is barrelled and sent to different markets, being in request as an ingredient in cooling drinks. The straight young shoots are cut and shipped in bundles, to be used as walking sticks.
YELLOW RED-POLL WARBLER, Sylvia petechia, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. vi. p. 19.
SYLVIA PETECHIA, Bonap. Syn., p. 83; S. palmarum, p. 78.
SYLVICOLA PETECHIA, Yellow Red-poll Warbler, Swains. & Rich. F. Bor. Amer., vol. ii. p. 215.
YELLOW RED-POLL WARBLER, Sylvia petechia, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 264.
YELLOW RED-POLL WARBLER, Sylvia petechia, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. ii. p. 259, Adult Male and Young; p. 360, Adult Male and Female.
Wings of ordinary length, with the outer three quills almost equal, the second longer than the first, which slightly exceeds the fourth; tail emarginate. Male with the crown of the head deep brownish-red, the upper parts yellowish-olive, streaked with brown; the rump greenish-yellow, without streaks; quills dusky brown, primaries edged with whitish, secondaries with yellowish; tail feathers dusky brown, margined with greenish-yellow, the outer two with a white patch on the inner web at the end, sometimes the outer white on both webs at the end; a bright yellow streak from the nostril over the eye; lore dusky; ear-coverts brownish-red; lower parts yellow; the sides of the neck, its lower part, and the sides of the body, streaked with deep red. Female similar to the male, but with the tints duller and paler, the red of the head scarcely apparent, and the fore-neck very faintly streaked. Young dull light greenish-brown, tinged with grey, the head streaked with dusky; lower parts yellowish-grey, the sides of the neck and body, with the breast, faintly streaked with greyish-brown.
Male, 4 1/2, 8 1/2.
From Texas northward. Very abundant. Spends the winter in all the Southern States.
For more on this species, see its entry in the Birds of North America Field Guide.