This week’s photo, taken September 10, 2013 at Union Bay Natural Area (Montlake Fill), features a first year male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. Notice some black facial feathers beginning to appear. Eventually, this bird will develop a full Lone Ranger-like mask, but so far this young guy is only sporting a 5 o’clock shadow.
One of the great mysteries in life is why birds with the word “Common” in their name are sometimes difficult to find. In the year I have lived in Washington state, I have not seen a Common Tern or a Common Eider or a Common Poorwill, and I’ve only found Common Redpolls on two occasions. Until a few weeks ago, I had never observed a Common Murre in my entire life. When I was living in San Diego, a Common Grackle once showed up in the southern part of San Diego County, and the local birding community rushed to see this rarity. The Common Yellowthroat seems to be commonly uncommon when I am bird-watching; however, last Tuesday at the Montlake Fill in Seattle was a pleasant exception. That morning, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT was one of the easier species to find. Gee, I wonder if location and timing could be key factors in how abundant a bird might be?