110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Nov 18, 2012 - 1:37:01am
An energetic, elusive female common yellowthroat kept flying and flitting about in the tall grass and weeds at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in October.
Yellowthroats are very common, yet not easy to see, because they live in wet thickets and damp brushy places in marshes and swamps and near streams, but not in forests. In the winter, they live in the southern U.S. and south to Central America, but not in desert areas. In the summer, they live as far north as the Yukon.
A male common yellowthroat, who looks similar to the female but has deeper colors and a black mask, was also darting from weed to weed at Lake Woodruff. However, he was not cooperative about getting his photo taken!
Common yellowthroats are songbirds whose usual melody is a loud, high-pitched, three-part "wee-chee-tee, wee-chee-tee."
These petite birds eat moths, beetles, spiders, grasshoppers, grubs, ants, plant lice, butterfly larvae, and seeds. They are not strong fliers, but easily dart among reeds and weeds searching for food from sunrise to sunset.
When breeding time comes, the female builds a cuplike nest in low growths of vegetation just 3 or 4 inches from the ground. The male helps to find dead grass, weed stems, dead leaves and ferns with which his mate will construct the nest. The inside is lined with delicate fibers of bark and, often, with hair.
These wise little feathered friends are very careful about their nests and never fly directly to or from them! They fly to the ground and walk to their nest and then leave the same way, so predators can't find it! If a predator, such as a snake, turtle, opossum, raccoon, hawk, owl or person, does come close, the yellowthroat silently jumps out of the nest and creeps away. Yellowthroats are quite successful at making their nests next to impossible to find.
The female lays three to five eggs, and incubates them for 12 days. When the eggs hatch, the helpless chicks grow quite fast, and are able to leave the nest in only eight to 10 days. Both parents care for them and help feed them for a few weeks; then they're on their own.
The tricks, traits and habits of the energetic common yellowthroat are impressive!
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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