Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 12, 2010

Why they call it a “yellow-rump”

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Sweetwater — richditch @ 2:36 pm
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Common names of birds are interesting. Sometimes they are named after features of the bird’s plumage, but those features may not always be obvious. Examples of common names relating to obscure plumage features are Ring-necked Duck (the ring is a faint dark brown on a blackish neck best seen when the bird is in hand) and Red-bellied Woodpecker (whose belly can show a faint reddish wash but whose cap is brilliant red).

But sometimes the name is obvious, as on the Yellow-rumped Warbler shown here. This image was made on January 9, 2010, at the Sweetwater facility along I-10 in Tucson, AZ. Sweetwater is a waste water recharge facility something like the Gilbert Water Ranch, but older and with more established trees and more permanent ponds. It had been a few years since I’d been there (a 100 mile drive each way along an unpleasant stretch of I-10). But I was lured down by a unique leucistic Vermilion Flycatcher that’s been easy (for others) to see and photograph, and I wanted to get some shots of it while it was still being seen. Of course it didn’t make an appearance over the three hours I had available, and of course it showed up again the following day in the same spot.

But Sweetwater was so good for bird photography that it wasn’t a wasted trip and I look forward to another visit soon. There’s now a very shallow artificial stream just off the parking lot, and it is an ideal place to sit and wait for bird activity. In addition to this ‘rump there were Song and Lincoln’s Sparrows, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow Warbler (a rarity in winter), a full plumage Vermilion Flycatcher, Cactus and Marsh Wrens, and a Pyrrhuloxia – all in a 40 foot stretch.

I also found the ponds in better condition for photos than on the visits I made there years ago.

To get the most out of this location it will take a few visits to learn what birds use which locations at what times, as well as getting a feel for when the light is best at any of these locations.

If I lived 50 miles closer I’d visit regularly, but at now I’ve got some incentive to go back more often.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/350th second at f/11.



  1. Sweet shot.

    Comment by Sonny's Pics — January 13, 2010 @ 4:50 am

  2. That’s awesome! What a great shot to show off this bird.

    Comment by Kimberly Hosey (AZ Writer) — January 13, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  3. I’ve a weak spot for “common” birds that many photographers overlook in searching for the rare. You were able to elevate this image due to the unusual angle showing off its titular feature, yet still have a profile of the head. You placed yourself perfectly for the light, too. Very nice.

    Comment by Bosque Bill — January 16, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  4. i found a yellow rumped walber. my cat had it in his mouth. but the bird died

    Comment by taylor — February 12, 2010 @ 7:08 am

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