How he got his name

In case you need a reason to go birding, here’s one:  the flame orange throat of the male Blackburnian warbler (Setophaga fusca).

Blackburnians are one of the few birds named for a woman.

Anna Blackburne (1726 – 1793) was an English naturalist who taught herself Latin and the Linnaean system of classification.  Her scientific skills were so well respected that people sent her specimens from around the world to add to her museum of natural history.  Her brother Ashton lived in the U.S. and was among those who sent her birds.  In those days that meant he shot them and sent her the skins.

Anna’s primary focus was entomology so when she encountered an unnamed bird she sent it to the bird experts.  The Blackburnian warbler was thus described by Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller who named it in her honor.

Because Blackburnian warblers nest in mature conifer forests, we won’t see them in the city after they’ve passed through on migration.

Now’s the time to look for them.


(photo by Chuck Tague)

2 thoughts on “How he got his name

  1. This is my favorite warbler. I am going to the mountains of Va. this weekend and hope to see many! But the death of the hemlocks has affected them in Va. I think. Thank you for the beautiful picture today.

  2. My favorite warbler as well. Much to my delight Magee was full of them last year.
    Thanks for the info. Enjoy Magee.

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