The darkest colors are on the top where illumination is brightest; the lightest shades on the bottom where the light is weak, a telltale dimensional shape is converted to an inconspicuous, even-toned flatness.Not only are chats counter-shaded but the green/yellow combination effectively mimics the properties of light as it passes through deciduous leaves during photosynthesis. Lighter yellow-green waves pass through creating a diffused wash below the leaf.Chuck Tague Over thousands of generations, Yellow-breasted Chats have perfected an effective survival strategy.This bulky songbird skulks unseen through the brush.
In the 1960’s banders at Powdermill, as well as observers across the northeastern United States, noticed juvenile Cedar Waxwings with orange instead of yellow tail tips.I was doomed to find the answer the old fashioned way. In “A Field Guide to Warblers of North America” (1997) Jon Dunn describes the adult chat’s “chin and throat, down through lower breast, deep bright yellow.” Dunn adds in parenthesis, “in some variants tinted or blotched with orange-yellow, possibly diet related.” In a subsequent section Dunn expands on this.Referring to a study presented by Mulvihill et al, (that is Bob Mulvihill and the bird banding staff at Powdermill Nature Reserve) Dunn explains “Orange-breasted variants found locally appear to result from a diet rich in honeysuckle (“Lonerica”) before the late summer prebasic molt.” In Yellow-breasted Chats the prebasic molt, the annual replacement of worn feathers and transition from the alternate plumage acquired for the breeding season, occurs on the breeding ground between July and October.I focused and saw the Yellow-breasted Chat’s unmistakable white spectacles and thick beak.The chat cautiously peered out at me from behind a leaf.He perched, crouching between two branches, using his practiced “I’m invisible and invincible” pose.With an orange breast instead of yellow, the strategy was ineffective. My original internet search of “Yellow-breasted Chat” turned up nothing on the bird but an astounding number of chat rooms that include “breast” in their topic.Researchers isolated the source of the rhodoxanthin as Morrow Honeysuckle fruit.This aggressively invasive alien species has been widely planted for wildlife since the early sixties, about the time orange tails began to appear., is a fruit-eating songbird named for the bright red tabs on the end of the secondary flight feathers in adult birds.These shiny tips are extensions of the feather shafts and resemble drops of sealing wax.