Scientists have shown that a bird found in Pennsylvania is the offspring of a hybrid warbler mother and a warbler father from an entirely different genus—a combination never recorded before now and which resulted in a three-species hybrid bird. This finding has just been published in the journal Biology Letters.
“It’s extremely rare,” explains lead author and Cornell Lab of Ornithology postdoctoral associate David Toews. “The female is a Golden-winged/Blue-winged Warbler hybrid—also called a Brewster’s Warbler. She then mated with a Chestnut-sided Warbler and successfully reproduced.”
A dedicated bird watcher and contributor to eBird.org in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania, first noted the oddity in May 2018. Lowell Burket says he spends time birding and relaxing in the woods on family-owned property where he also likes to take photos and video of birds. In one piece of video he noticed a male bird that sang like a Chestnut-sided Warbler but had some of the physical characteristics of both Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers. Burket saw the bird again a number of times, reported it to eBird, and got in touch with researchers in the Cornell Lab’s Fuller Evolutionary Biology Lab. MORE
Header image: Rare triple-hybrid warbler (Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, and Chestnut-sided Warbler). Credit: Lowell Burket.