The woods are full of

Yellow-rumped Warbler 

The woods are alive with the chip notes of Yellow-rumped “Myrtle” Warblers. They are moving through in big waves right now. Yellow-rumped Warblers are in their “basic” or non-breeding plumage. But you can still see the yellow patch right above their tail, this yellow patch remains year-round and is a reliable field mark. They will also show some faint yellow on either side of their breast. Otherwise they have a streaky breast and a partial eye ring.

Unfortunately when the Yellow-rumped Warblers move through, that generally marks the end of Warbler migration. Most of our “treasured jewels”, as I like to refer to these winged marvels, of the Northwoods are returning to their homes in the tropics.

Here are some interesting tidbits about Warblers. In the old world (Eurasia) there is the family group of Warblers (sylviidae), in the new world (the Americas) they are differentiated by the term Wood, here they are called Wood-warblers (parulidae). In the new world we have 115 species of Wood-warblers in North and South America, including Central America. Of that number 40 species occur in North America. Up here in Voyageur country, 24 species of Wood-warblers are summer residents and likely breeders.

Most Wood-warblers stay at home in Central and South America, but some species migrate great distances to breed in North America. This is one of the mysteries of the natural world. Why do some Wood-warblers migrate and others stay put? Wouldn’t it be easier to stay home? There are different theories, but one is that there is much competition for food sources during the critical time of raising young. Tropical Warblers lay only 2 eggs, while the neotropical migrates usually lay 6 eggs. This probably compensates their risk of long migration flights.

There is some movement of Tropical Warblers – some use elevation to their advantage. In summer during the rainy season some Warblers move to higher elevations, and then in the winter, the dry season, they move back down to lower elevations.

In Minnesota we do have 3 species of what is refered to as “true” Warblers. They are the two species of Kinglet, the GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET and the RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, and the BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER. We are lucky enough to have both species of Kinglet regularly breeding in our area. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher occurs in southern Minnesota.

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