Yellow Treasure

Ornithologists are famous for giving common names to birds that are anything but common-sensical. Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers, for example, have the same length bills. Ring-necked Ducks have bright rings around their bills, not their necks. Orange-crowned Warblers almost never show their crowns, and when they do, the crowns are almost impossible to see. Common Nighthawks are not common, aren’t very active at night, and aren’t hawks.

But Yellow Warblers… ah, that’s another story. Yellow as the sun, yellow as lemons, Yellow Warblers are a yellow of such pure yellowness they put bananas to shame. As for the warbling part of their names, their contratenor arias are as thrilling to hear as any operatic singer’s. “Sweet, sweet, I’m so sweet,” the males sing in quick time, pushing out their melody so fast they sound like living piccolos.

Yellow Warblers arrived last month and can be heard performing on the edges of the wetlands of Montlake Fill right now.

Here is a poem for you today about my golden-treasured warbler:

I left him there singing,
throat quivering, bill to the sky.
I went back home, away from the wild,
leaving my spirit behind.

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