A new population of Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) on Cozumel Island with a combination of characteristics of Mangrove (S. p. bryanti) and Golden Warblers (S. p. rufivertex)

Barbara MacKinnon-Haskins and Alexander Dzib-Chay

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Cozumel Island is known to be home to the endemic Golden Warbler, Setophaga petechia rufivertex, one of 43 subspecies of the Yellow Warbler, Setophaga petechia, while the mainland Yucatán Peninsula is home to a subspecies of Mangrove Warbler, Setophaga petechia bryanti, but historically Mangrove Warbler has been absent on the island. On 29 April 2014, we observed and photographed a warbler with extensive chestnut hood resembling Mangrove Warbler at Laguna Montecristo on the north coast of Cozumel. Additional visits on 4-5 August 2014, 13-14 July 2015, and 24 October 2015, in addition to photo-documented reports from resident and visiting birders, has turned up a total of 40+ mostly male Mangrove Warblers in addition to numerous potential females both on the north coast as well as on the south coast of Cozumel. Most records are in mangrove vegetation or a mixture of mangrove with dune or secondary vegetation, with one exception. On the other hand, Golden Warblers were never found in only mangrove habitat. All males photographed had broad breast streaks, darker crowns than rest of head, and both sexes had slightly yellower lores than typical Mangrove Warblers, all being features of Golden Warbler. Genetic studies would be highly desirable to understand the origin of this apparently new population.

Keywords: Habitat, mangrove, north coast, Punta Sur, origin.

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