Townsend's Warbler

Scientific Name: Dendroica townsendi

Pictures: (click for larger images)

Townsend's Warbler in a tree in the UCLA Botanical Garden.  March 2005.  This was probably just before they migrated northward.
Male Townsend's Warbler in a tree in the UCLA Botanical Garden.  3/23/05

The birds are back in town!

UCLA Botanical Garden, 10/2/05

UCLA Botanical Garden, 10/3/05
At Stone Canyon Creek!  10/4/05
UCLA Botanical Garden, 10/2/05

-Photos by Jason Finley

Description: Small. 4.5-5" in length (beak to tail), smaller than a sparrow.  These cute little guys have striking yelllow and black striped heads, with a mask of black around the eye.  Their upper back is olive greenish and their wings are streaked black and white.  The adult males have a solid black throat while the females and juveniles have a streaked black and yellow throat.  Their small pointy beaks are similar in shape to the Yellow-rumped Warbler.  The Townsend's Warblers look almost identical to the Black-throated Gray Warbler, except that the Townsend's have a lot of yellow and the Black-throated Grays are all black and white.

Sound: Listen to a Townsend's Warbler singing and calling!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.

Commonality/Seasonality: Rare, and in fall/winter only.

Location: I've only seen them in the UCLA Botanical Garden, but they might also be found in the Native Fragment. They supposedly like confierous (pine) trees, but I've seen them come down into lower trees with fewer leaves too.  I also saw one come down to the stream in the garden and give itself a bath!

Notes: Go during the winter to the Botanical Garden and "you'll find one eventually after sorting through all the Yellow-rumped Warblers which are abundant" (Alex Kirschel, UCLA grad student).  They're very striking and quite a treat when you do finally spot one.  They're not nearly as elusive as the Hermit Thrush, so if you keep looking your odds are good.

HistoricalDr. Loye Miller wrote about Black-throated Gray Warblers, Townsend's Warblers, and Hermit Warblers together:

A slowly moving wave of these migrating warblers comes from the south in the first ten days of May (Black-throat may be a little earlier).  I look for them along the Arroyo, where they frequently appear in the pines.  In the hills they are partial to oaks and walnuts.  I look for them each year very much as you might go down to the train to spend a few minutes with a friend who is just passing through.  [note: Dr. Milller writes of the Townsend's just passing through, but today they seem to stay with us throughout the winter]

-Miller, Loye.  "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300.  Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.



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