i hadn't laid eyes on a golden-winged warbler in years and at first i couldn't believe what i was seeing until someone else called it - 2016-11-14
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mystery of the bachman's warbler
2003-06-02 - 11:45 a.m.
I just got my travel documents for our trip to Panama. Now I'm in a
whirlwind of scheming and planning. I would love to pack so efficiently
that we don't have any checked luggage whatsoever.
A beginning birder recently reported seeing a Bachman's Warbler
in his yard elsewhere in Louisiana, a report he quickly retracted upon learning that
the bird was extinct, explaining that what he actually saw was a quick
a bird with a yellow chest and what he perceived as a black
"heart." I would guess that he saw a Hooded Warbler. The
hazards of using an older bird guide...
The tale of the Bachman Warbler is a tragic one. Lowery*
"It first became known in July 1833, when Dr. John Bachman shot
two individuals and observed several more, all within a short distance
of Charleston, South Carolina. He turned the specimens over to
Audubon....Over 50 years passed before another individual of
the species was seen, this time in Louisiana. Charles G.
Galbraith, a professional plume collector, who was procuring feathers
for the millinery trade, shot 38 of them in the springs of 1886,
1887, and 1988, and still others in 1891, all on dates between February
27 and March 20, and all in the vicinity of Mandeville on
Lake Ponchartrain. His interest was primarily that of getting
any kind of small, bright-colored bird that would be
suitable for skinning and drying with wings spread and with the
head turned back, ready for pinning on fashionable ladies' hats....
At about the same time, it was plentiful, at least in migration,
in southern Florida (where on March 3, 1889, alone, 21 birds struck the
lighthouse on Sombrero Key)....
Between being collected for specimens and hats, and losing its breeding
habitat in the United States and its winter habitat in Cuba, this beautiful
jewel quietly faded away, without attracting much in the way of attention or
fuss from the wider world. It makes you wonder how many other
treasures Mandeville has lost in its great rush to become
the next Veterans Boulevard. Local birders have said that, many years ago, they had
discovered a staging ground here for migrating Monarch butterflies.
The area is developed now and, while the butterflies still migrate, they
seem to go by in onesies, twosies, and threesies instead of
the clouds of butterflies that one sees in photographs from Mexico.
"Since the time of Galbraith there have been fewer than a dozen
records of the Bachman's Warbler in Louisiana, despite an intensive
search for it, even in the vicinity of Mandeville."
*Louisiana Birds, Third Edition, by George H. Lowery, Jr.
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