Hey all you Blueberry Hill Jacks and Jills! Check out this crazy crooner and his backup chicks with their keyboard-themed threads and choreographed grooves! Good Golly, Miss Molly, this nifty summer act is a blast! Give the Black-and-White Warblers (Mniotilta varia) a spin and they’re certain to lock in a spot on your personal Top 40 jukebox.
Eyeballing their color scheme, you might guess the BWWs are all about tickling the ivories. Not so! They’re an all a capella group with a front man who’s an acrobatic showboat, hanging upside down as he sings and swings.
Less Nat King Cole cool cat, more Little Richard Krazy Kat.
This hot combo only has one major hit — We See — but it’s become a classic with the buzzin cuzzins. That memorable chorus (wee see, wee see, wee see, wee see, wee see, wee see!)… ok, it ain’t Shakespeare. Sung by a handsome lead vocalist in a wailing falsetto, though, it’s radioactive. That singer is a chrome-plated deb’s delight, and hoo-boy, does he know it!
Let’s say a gal with a classy chassis strolls by. He’ll say howdy doody by demonstrating all his supermurgitroid hand jive moves… and that ought to razz your berries because he doesn’t have hands!
He’s a dreamboat, for sure, but that BWW playboy isn’t such a non-conformist that he’ll refuse to ever settle down. Soon enough, he’ll find a teen angel to call his own. Shortly after they’re circled the scene will flip from jet-setting stage-and-spotlight Steve and Eydie to suburban cul-de-sac Ozzie and Harriet (only for a summer, though, because you know those show biz types and their musical chair marriages).
While the infatuation lasts they’ll play house and raise up some kids. Mrs. BWW will choose a cozy nursery nook, and Mr. BWW will help her choose building materials to make a cup-shaped creche. They want a big family so she’ll produce 4-6 eggs, then sit and wait for the stork to stop by while he brings carry-out home so she doesn’t have to shop and cook. Not quite 2 weeks into her vigil — Snap, Crackle, and Pop! — instant baby boom!
Mom and Pop take turns running to the market to keep their brood fed. The little ones are always clamoring for hot dish favorites like Chicken Tetrazzini or Tuna Noodle Casserole.. but the BWWs add their own unique twist to the recipe. Skip the oven. And the chicken. Or the tuna. Swap caterpillars for noodles and ta-da! Now that’s what I call convenience food.
SLURP… YUM! Seconds, anyone?
Don’t be fooled by Daddy-O’s mild-mannered family man persona, though. Just try to bird dog his wife, threaten his children, or help yourself to their pantry! You’ll soon discover he’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’, with spunk and daring far greater than his ½ oz flyweight standing would have you expect.
As the summer progresses, Dad will mellow out and let his heirs fight their own battles. BWW offspring make the transition from tyke to teenybopper to teenagers over a few short weeks, then hop away to Rock Around the Clock and find their own way in the world. They’ll get little push back their parents, who are already making plans to return to their prenuptial lives. Once the nest is empty, Mr. and Mrs. will separate amicably and head south for the annual winter tour of Central and northern South America.
They say that Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… unless it was Just One of Those Things.
Kieran J. Lindsey, PhD, is an urban wildlife biologist, writer, and personal assistant to her wire-fox terrier, Dash. Kieran is co-author of Urban Wildlife Management, the first textbook on the subject. Additional wildlife career experiences include: Executive Director of the TWRC wildlife rehabilitation and education center (1997-1999, Houston, TX); former columnist for the Houston Chronicle newspaper (The Urban Jungle, 1998-2001); producer, writer, and host of Wild Things Radio!on KUNM-FM (1999-2001, Albuquerque, NM); Emmy® award-winning documentary producer. Currently, Kieran is Director of Virginia Tech's Online Master of Natural Resources program, Managing Editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation, and blogger at nextdoornature.org. She lives and works in Lafayette Square (because the Internet is amazing).
Next time the Weather Channel predicts a cold front, with or without a “wintery mix,” ask yourself if the people peeking out from fleece hoodies, swaths of scarves, turned up coat collars, and balaclavas as they hunch toward the warmth of home look more like bears… or turtles.