"Burket's Warbler" News

Burket's Warbler

This page is dedicated to news of the three-species, two-genera hybrid warbler discovered by Lowell Burket
in May 2018.

Lowell Burket became interested in photographing birds in 2013. He learned about the birds, especially the warblers, which visited his family farm in Blair County, Pennsylvania. Early in 2018, after he became familiar with the 34 species of warblers he had found on the farm property, Lowell found a warbler he did not recognize. It seemed to be a Brewster's Warbler, but it was not quite right. Perhaps it was a mutation or a hybrid? When Lowell heard this warbler sing a Chestnut-sided Warbler song, he knew it was a new hybrid.
He contacted the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program with photographs and videos of the warbler. Dr. David Toews came to the farm in late June 2018 to capture and take a blood sample of the warbler. His research on the sample showed that bird was a three-species, two genera hybrid — a brand new bird! The three species were the Golden-winged Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler which make up the Brewster's Warbler, a female, and a Chestnut-sided Warbler, the male. The two genera are Vermivora (Brewster's) and Dendroica (Chestnut-sided).
The implications of this new hybrid on bird genetics are amazing. With falling populations of certain bird species, which other species and/or genera can successfully mate to produce new hybrids? And the response around the world has been equally amazing since the news was published on November 7, 2018. The discovery has been reported in over 94 countries in over 450 articles and has appeared on 1,000 websites.
The wait is now on to see if the so-called "Burket's Warbler" returns to Blair County in 2019. If it does, can it mate and produce a viable offspring? Only time will tell.

Three-Species Hybrid

RARE THREE-SPECIES HYBRID WARBLER FOUND IN PENNSYLVANIA


Scientists have discovered a rare hybrid warbler with a Chestnut-sided Warbler father and a Brewster's Warbler (Blue-winged X Golden-winged Warbler hybrid) mother. The new bird has DNA from three warbler species. It was first observed by Lowell Burket in Roaring Spring, PA this past May. Researchers at the Cornell Lab's Fuller Evolutionary Biology Lab took a blood sample of the bird for analysis and discovered its unusual lineage.

Read more here Three-Species Hybrid Warbler.



Three-Species Hybrid

THREE-SPECIES WARBLER DISCOVERER INTERVIEWED ON CBC RADIO

Lowell Burket, discoverer of the new three-species warbler, was interviewed on the CBC Radio show "As It Happens" on November 12, 2018. He describes how he found the new bird and the steps he took to determine exactly what it was. The new hybrid, a Chestnut-sided Brewster's hybrid, has been named a "Burket's Warbler," since Lowell discovered it.
Read an article about the interview and listen to Lowell at this link:   As It Happens


LOWELL BURKET INTERVIEW IN THE JANUARY/FEBRUARY ISSUE OF THE PEREGRINE

Burket and Moeller Lowell Burket and his wife Anne met Tom Moeller at the National Aviary on November 17, 2018 for an interview on his discovery. This was only 10 days after Dr. David Toews paper "A wood-warbler produced through both interspecific and intergeneric hybridization" was published making it the first face-to-face interview for Lowell. Lowell was still in awe of the world-wide reaction his discovery had produced. A "regular guy," Lowell was just trying to get a perfect photo of this bird not realizing where it would lead him.
Read the full interview illustrated with Lowell's photos of the "Burket's Warbler" at this link: Lowell Burket Interview.

David Toews

DR. DAVID TOEWS SELECTED TO RECEIVE THE NED K. JOHNSON EARLY INVESTIGATOR AWARD

Dr. David Toews was contacted by Lowell Burket in May 2018 to help Lowell work out the problem of his odd warbler that looked like a Brewster's Warbler but sang like a Chestnut-sided Warbler. Lowell thought the bird might be a hybrid of some type. DNA evidence was needed to figure out the genetic heritage of this bird. Dr. Toews visited Lowell's family farm in late June 2018, where he helped Lowell and his brother Brian capture the warbler, draw blood, and band it. Within days Dr. Toews determined that the warbler through its mitochondrial DNA had a Brewster's Warbler mother. Further work showed that the father was indeed a Chestnut-sided Warbler. Because of this and other research Dr. Toews has accomplished, he was selected by the American Ornithological Society for this prestigious award.

See the full article of this honor given to Dr. David Toews here: Johnson Early Investigator Award.

LOWELL BURKET AND HIS THREE-SPECIES WARBLER HAVE THEIR OWN WEBPAGE

Lowell Burket's discovery of the three-species warbler has grown so popular that he and his wife have created a website to keep track of the publicity and to tell the backstory of finding and determining exactly what the bird's heritage is.
Find the website at Burket's Warbler.

HEAR THE "BURKET'S WARBLER" SING

We have a added a video of the "Burket's Warbler" singing on territory recorded by Lowell Burket. Its song is that of a Chestnut-sided Warbler. In the background you can hear a Chestnut-sided Warbler singing, which the "Burket's Warbler" seems to be responding to. Find it on our Videos page.

All Photos of the "Burket's Warbler" on this page by Lowell Burket

Image Gallery

Mission of 3RBC

To gather in friendship, to enjoy the wonders of nature and to share our passion for birds!

© Photo Credits:
Sherron Lynch, Brian Shema, Chuck Tague