Thursday, February 18, 2016

Grave concerns for the Belding's Yellowthroat

                                      Belding’s Yellowthroat
                              Geothlypis beldingi


A couple of years ago, I was invited to participate in a Community Hummingbird Festival, in Todos Santos, BCS Mexico. It was at the fantastic community event that I was made aware of the plight of the Belding's Yellowthroat. This very small marsh bird, it literally being encroached to extinction. The Belding lives in a very small section of the lower Baja, in the fresh and brackish water marshes. The bulk of these areas also happen to be adjacent to some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Mexico. Exactly the kind of place developers seek for future resorts, condos and custom homes. The plight of one very small bird is really put on the back burner when you are talking about million of dollars in wages, taxes, home sales and rental fees., especially here in some the poverty stricken areas of Mexico.

Any way, the Belding has an estimated population of approximately 1000, + or - and are found primarily around the southern tip of Baja California Sur. The wet lands around San Jose Del Cabo and Todos Santos are the primary areas for the population, but I have seen them in Agua Caliente, and as far north as La Purisima. I have no doubt that they could be found in the marsh areas of Magdalena Bay, Lopez Mateo, and even up to San Ignacio.

At this point the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have listed this species as "Endangered". For more information on the listing and the Belding's Yellowthroat, please visit their website. the fun part, here are some pictures!!  As you can see on the picture above, there is very little white above the block eye patch on the Belding's like you would see on the common Yellowthroat. Mostly just a very small white area behind the cheek area.

For those of you that have ever tried to capture these small, fast, constantly moving little birds, you know how hard it is to get that great shot, with out a reed, stick or leaf in the way...and then when you do, the silly bird blinks!! The pictures you see here in this short story represent hundreds of hours standing in muck, living with mosquitos....looking for that one shot!

Here is a female Belding's......

and here are a shot of an immature bird....

and for those of you that are really into the variations, and subspecies, here is a Common Yellowthroat, that I shot in Morrow Bay, California while we had our sailboat there for a week. Note the complete lack of white above the eye....and much more of a gray like the first year male Eastern Yellowthroat variation, only that bird would not have any black. This is also very similar to the Hooded Yellowthroat, which is seen on the eastern side of mainland Mexico....feel free to chime in if you have any comments on this or any of the birds pictured here!!

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