Golden-winged Warblers

The Vermilion Falls Road (FR 491) yielded a few surprises for me over the weekend. A birder friend had told me to look in the young forest for Golden-winged Warblers. There are numerous tracks of land in this area where young aspen trees are growing after the land has been logged.

I found a likely spot just past the VERMILION FALLS Picnic Area. I stood and listened and watched for a little while. There were the usual suspects singing and staking out their territories: Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black and White Warbler. I didn’t hear any Golden-winged Warblers so I got back in the car to head to the next spot, when all of a sudden I heard one! Bee-buzz-buzz, bee-buzz-buzz. I jumped out of the car and there he was! Right in the small tree along the road. 

Golden-winged Warbler by Dave Cahlander 
Golden-winged Warbler photo by Dave Cahlander

Wow- what a beautiful bird! Well, that made my day. The target bird of the day found within minutes.

I really didn’t think we had Golden-winged Warblers up here – I thought they were present only in central Minnesota. They like old abandoned farmsteads etc. where there is more open area; not a bird that would occur up here in our heavily forested northwoods.

The Golden-winged Warbler has an interesting story behind it. They are closely related to the Blue-winged Warbler and in areas where their ranges overlap they will hybridize. 1st generation hybrids are called Brewster’s Warbler. Hybrids that then pair with either species will produce a variety of backcrosses. And because the Blue-winged Warbler has the dominant genes, their offspring will probably eventually revert back to Blue-winged Warblers, thus causing a decline in the number of Golden-winged Warblers. There is so much concern in the eastern part of the US that they are closely monitoring populations of the two species. The good news is that the Golden-winged Warbler is expanding its range northward, while the Blue-winged Warbler is a bird of southern Minnesota.

Bug Creek Walking Trails

Another area I checked out was the Bug Creek Walking Trails (don’t let the name scare you) off of Forest Road (FR) 203. Again this is an area of young Aspen trees. And in this location there were 2 Golden-winged Warblers interacting.

Habitat for Golden-winged Warbler
favorable habitat

This trail takes you to an area that overlooks a small pond on Bug Creek. A Bald Eagle flew out of the area when I arrived and there was a group of Ring-necked Ducks (or Ringbills). I also heard the haunting calls of Pied-billed Grebes. Overhead an American White Pelican was soaring.

wild strawberry flowers

Flowering wild strawberry plants were everywhere. It looks like it may be a very good year for the delectable wild strawberry.

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