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Foliage can be quite the impediment to identifying birds. How many times have you had just a little hole through which to see a bird. You actually can see the bird quite well; it's just facing "the wrong way." Then it moves up, hidden! You think, "Should I pish?" "Should I wait and see if it moves up?" Then, while you're contemplating the strange combination of your pishing skills, ABA's code of Ethics, and your inability to imitate a screech-owl, the little guy flies away-into the unknown! You're left thinking, "If only I had studied Tom Schultz's warbler tail plates in that warbler guide I could have identified this; well, that is, if it was a warbler!"
But here we have the little guy frozen in time. Awkwardly frozen, but frozen nevertheless. We can actually see a lot, a bright yellow throat, paler belly, bright white undertail coverts and grayish, maybe blue-gray upperparts. Verdin may come to mind, but that species wouldn't show this extent of yellow and this bird's legs seem too thick and bulky.. We may, also, think of Yellow-breasted Chat; but our bird seems too small and far too short-tailed.
Warblers are brightly colored, so that's a good place to start. The lack of wing bars eliminates everything from Blackburnian Warbler to both parulas, and Yellow-throated Vireo. Canada Warbler lacks wings bars, has white undertail coverts and yellow, but the yellow should extend well onto the flanks and the yellow coloration should not be quite so deep orange. Furthermore, the undertail coverts on our bird are longer than we would expect with a Canada Warbler and we can see white on the underside of the tail (Canada has an all dark tail).
The only warbler we are left with is Prothonotary, but aren't those really brightly colored? Not first-year birds. They look a lot like this. Some appear exactly like this, in fact. I photographed this first-cycle Prothonotary Warbler in late April at Ft. Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Florida.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the March Bird Photo Quiz—Prothonotary Warbler:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Chris Wood.