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Familiar Faces in Far Away Places

A Yellow-throated Warbler eats an insect in a palm in Mexico.
A Yellow-throated Warbler eats an insect in a palm in Mexico.

I initially started these personal articles on a separate website, but I have since decided to migrate them into the Flocking Around umbrella. I will continue sharing them here, so make sure to keep up with all my adventures by joining the flock! You can find the unique Flocking Adventures stream at the provided link!

Are they our birds or yours?

On a recent trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, staying in Akumal, I got the opportunity to photograph some of the breeding birds from the US and Canada. When seeing these birds in Mexico and talking about them to locals, I always have to remind myself that the majority of these birds that we see migrate to the states and CA in spring actually spend the majority of their lifecycle in Mexico. This always reminds me that birds do not 'belong' to anyone. They are not my birds, your birds, or their birds (even though the Supreme Court ruled wildlife belongs to the public). These birds belong to the world, the wilds, and the winds. They do not recognize geopolitical borders, current or past administrations, or property ownership. When we realize this, we can acknowledge that conservation cannot stop at these artificial lines and boundaries. It must be all-encompassing in all aspects of life.

Warbler, oh warbler, wherefore art thou warbler?

Like the Yellow-throated Warbler above, if you want to see the warblers that breed north of the Rio Grande during the winter, you must visit the tropics. In fact, visiting suitable locations during the winter can offer close, unique views of warblers. During a trip to the tropics for some conservation work, I was able to see sleeping Prothonotary Warblers at eye level!! Ugh. The cuteness overload was almost too much. It almost made me redo my list of Top 10 Warblers to include the Prothonotary Warbler (which should still be Golden Swamp Warbler, but that is a different conversation).

Tanager? Tanager? Cardinal.

A Summer Tanager eats an insect near Akumal, MX!
A Summer Tanager eats an insect near Akumal, MX!

If you ever visit the tropics, you will see many birds listed as tanagers, but they look very different from the tanagers in our northern latitudes. Once upon a time, these tanagers were considered confamiliar (that is not an actual term). What I mean by this is: The Summer Tanager used to be in the Thraupidae (tanager) family. However, these tanagers are now lumped into the beautiful Cardinalidae (cardinal) family. They still hold the tanager surname, but they are now considered confamiliar (again, not an actual term, but it should be) with the cardinals, grosbeaks, and buntings.


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