Monday, June 10, 2013

Photo of the Week: Summer Azure

Birders recognize the transition from Yellow-rumped Warblers to Blackpoll Warblers as a sign that spring migration is reaching its final stages. The situation is more complex than that, as both species are present together for two or more weeks. But if you hear Blackpoll Warblers but not Yellow-rumped Warblers, you are probably in the last week or two of May.

In the same way, one can find seasonal harbingers elsewhere in the natural world. One of them is this species, Summer Azure, which shows up around the same time that Blackpoll Warblers are leaving. Summer Azure is part of a species complex that used to be known as "Spring Azure." Thanks to careful study of phenology, genetics, and microscopic traits, what once was one species is now several species, with a succession of overlapping flight seasons, starting in early spring and continuing through summer. Summer Azure is the last to appear and has two broods. In New Jersey the first emerges in late May or early June, and the second emerges later in the summer.

I photographed this Summer Azure in the Rutgers Ecological Preserve last week.