Birds of the Vermilion River Gorge

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

One of my favorite places to bird is the Vermilion Gorge Hiking Trail in Crane Lake. The trailhead starts in the back parking lot of Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats. Once you are out of downtown Crane Lake, the sound of bird song greets you as you walk into the forest.

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler

The first part of the trail takes you through some upland forest. Here there are young balsam trees that hold a variety of Wood-Warblers like the Black and White Warbler, but also Magnolia Warblers and Nashville Warblers. It kind of sounds like we’re down south with the names of some of the Warblers.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

As you walk along the path, you go down a set of stairs. This is a good place to overlook the forest below and if you’re lucky, you may find a Northern Parula foraging in the canopy of trees. The Northern Parula is another colorful Warbler. Their song is fairly easy to remember – it sounds like zippppppppppppppp! With the ending going higher. These spunky little Warblers are tiny at only 4.5 inches from tip to tail. They make up for it in their feisty ways!

Mourning Warbler

Mourning Warbler

After you go down the stairs, this section of the trail is one of the best parts. Tall mature Aspen dominate while other conifers are mixed in. The brushy understory provides cover for many ground nesting birds. The Mourning Warbler nests on the ground, and they don’t feed that high up – they like to skulk around in the underbrush.

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler

As you go further towards the Vermilion River, you come into some lowlands. Mountain Maple, or as locals call it Moose Maple, grows along the trail. This is where you might find the Canada Warbler. This Warbler also nests on the ground and they need heavy cover for the rearing of young ones.

Overall the Vermilion Gorge Trail has a variety of habitats and that adds to the diversity of birds that make the area their summer home. In addition to the many Warblers there are a variety of many other birds like Flycatchers, Thrushes, Wrens, and Sparrows. Why is the area so special? I think maybe one reason could be that when the birds are migrating north in the spring, they tend to follow rivers, perhaps like the Vermilion River. Sometimes when they reach a large body of water, they rest before going further. Some may say to themselves, hey this looks like a great place to spend the summer! And they are so right…

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1 Response to Birds of the Vermilion River Gorge

  1. WOW! What a warbler collection. I need to put your area on my “must see” list.

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