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Second sighting of Ehler’s Sandhopper-Warbler

April 6, 2018

Several days after our original publication on 1 April, 2018, we received notification of another sighting of Ehler’s Sandhopper-Warbler. This sighting was on 1 April, 2018, but several hundred miles farther north and quite likely was a different bird. Well-known international birder, Don Roberson, was out doing some morning birding at a local patch, – the Iris Canyon vicinity of the Monterey MPC campus in Monterey, CA, to be exact – when he spotted and photographed what he naturally assumed at the time to be a typical Yellow-rumped Warbler, well on its way into alternate (breeding) plumage. Alerted by our announcement of the presence of the Ehler’s Sandhopper-Warbler in Southern California, he reexamined his photograph, and discovered it to be the Ehler’s. This second sighting supports Dr. Ehler’s conjecture (see bottom of the original article) that the birds may have been wintering in North America for a very long time, their presence unsuspected until now, due to their exceptionally close resemblance to the unrelated and very common Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Another sighting of Ehler’s Sandhopper-Warbler in Monterey, CA, this time hopping over both a large bush and the photographer. (Don Roberson 4-1-18)

The photo is included in Roberson’s eBird checklist for that day (not yet corrected to include Ehler’s Sandhopper-Warbler). In his communication with us, Roberson commented:

I read your article with interest. Just yesterday I photographed what I thought was a Yellow-rumped Warbler but I wonder if I misidentified the Ehler’s Sandhopper-Warbler? Please note that subject in question is clearly hopping — without spreading its wings — except this hop was much higher — well over my head — and might suggest a means to hopping from canopy to canopy across North America.  Just a hypothesis, of course, as you guys are on the cutting edge of science here.

Roberson has long been fascinated by the entire spectrum of the families of birds of the world, and has assembled his photographs and discussions into an extremely attractive and informative website*, Creagrus @ Monterey Bay, deserving of the attention of any birder similarly inclined. I didn’t see Sandhopper-Warblers among the avian families listed, so this sighting will give him something to catch up on. Many thanks to Don Roberson for his alert attention to detail!
[Chuck Almdale — 6 April, 2018]

*The lovely Swallow-tailed Gull Creagrus furcatus is endemic to the Galapagos Islands and is the sole species in its genus.

Those who found this article plausible, should also read:
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2012:   Canyonland Roadrunner Captured on Film
2011:   New Hummingbird Species Discovered in Los Angeles County!
2010:  The Western Roof-Owl: Bird of Mystery


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