The Common Yellowthroat shares the unfortunate first name of “common” like so many other birds – Common Loon, Common Raven, Common Goldeneye, Common Nighthawk, Common Grackle, etc. Not only that, but “yellowthroat” isn’t exactly the most original name, considering there is both the Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo. Thus, we like to call this friendly warbler the Masked Bandit.
The “masked” part is obvious as the Common Yellowthroat has a well-defined black mask around the eyes. But why “bandit”? Common Yellowthroats aren’t thieves, cheats, or outlaws. Yellowthroats, like all warblers, are full of energy, spunk, and that attitude that we birders have always loved. However, Yellowthroats seem to have a cooler, more laid-back approach to the world. Often they just seem to sit out in the open and “whitchity” away.
Deer Run Forest Preserve is actually the first place I saw a Masked Bandit. Today, they were living up to their “common” name. But it is thanks to these “common” birds that birding remains always fun and interesting. They help to keep you in tune with the environment. They teach you to slow down a bit and really observe.