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Sunshine, the Yellow Warbler

I would love to meet someone named Sunshine, wouldn’t you? Peter Rabbit meets Sunshine in Ch. 24 of Thornton W. Burgess’ classic, “The Burgess Bird Book for Children.” Sunshine is a Yellow Warbler and perfectly named for his bright yellow feathers, although he isn’t entirely yellow but also has reddish brown streaks on his breast and black on his wings and tail. As I’ve said before, Warblers are very fast so if you have a chance to see one perched on a branch, it would be good to grab some binoculars and see if you can find his streaks.

Sunshine has a really interesting conversation with Peter Rabbit. The topic of that conversation is Sally Sly, the Brown-headed Cowbird, and how she laid her egg in their nest. The amazing thing that we found was that allaboutbirds speaks about the very same thing that Sunshine tells in his story.

Let’s hear it from him first. Peter asks Sunshine if they threw Sally Sly’s egg out of their nest after finding it:

“No, replied Sunshine. “Our nest was too deep for us to get that egg out. We just made a second bottom in our nest right over that egg and built the sides of the nest a little higher. Then we took good care that she didn’t have a chance to lay another egg in there.”

Thornton W. Burgess, The Burgess Bird Book, Living Books Press edition, p. 122

For a better look at what Sunshine is describing, check out Mary Holland’s picture of a Yellow Warbler Nest on her blog Naturally Curious with Mary Holland. She describes the parasitic relationship Cowbirds have with Yellow Warblers, in particular, and their solution.

I can see why Sunshine and his wife are proud, because a Yellow Warbler’s nest looks particularly soft: check out Don Weiss’ video of a Yellow Warbler female building her nest on YouTube

Here is the rest of our gathering for Sunshine:

Until next time, keep birding! <3 Kate

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