Warbler Heaven

At this time of the year when I’m out in the woods, I almost feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven, the Warblers and their songs are that heavenly to me. Feast your ears and eyes now on these little flying jewels because in reality they actually spend very little time up here in the northland. They are just here for about 8 weeks each season and during that time they are probably singing for only about 6 weeks. Some species like the Connecticut Warbler seem like they sing for a mere 3 weeks. Then the Warblers are busy caring for and feeding young birds. After the chicks are fledged they disappear into the thickets and soon after that they are on their way back to Central and South America.

It is such a short time that one must appreciate the sights and sounds of nature now. To be successful in finding any of the many Wood-Warbler species we have up here in Voyageur Country, it is very helpful to learn the songs of the birds. By listening carefully to their songs a whole new world reveals itself. Recognizing the song will help guide you to where the bird may be perched. It will assist you in identifying the bird, and then you will know where to look, as some Warblers prefer to be high up in the canopy, while other Warbler species are ground skulkers. Some species like the Mourning Warbler would be at a mid-level height.

Mourning Warbler, female

Mourning Warbler, female

With the advent of the Internet and high speed capability, a whole new opportunity to learn birds songs is available.  The website, All About Birds, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has great information with sound files and videos. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Yellow_Warbler/sounds
If you want to hear more bird songs go to the Macaulay Library of Animal Sounds. http://macaulaylibrary.org/index.do

Learning bird songs is really not as difficult as one may think. Start out slowly and learn the easy calls first. Seek out the calls that sound unique and those will be easier to remember. One Warbler that has an easy song to learn is the Black-throated Green Warbler: zee- zee- zee- zoo- zee.

I have an iPod that I carry into the field with me that has all the bird songs loaded onto it. When I hear a bird sing, I try to remember what bird it is, and then I play the song on my iPod to check myself. This is probably the easiest way to learn the songs. The software that I use on my iPod can be purchased from www.birdjam.com. If you have an external speaker with your iPod, sometimes the bird will come in so you can get a better look. Be very careful with this powerful tool and use it responsibly. Rare birds or nesting birds should never be disturbed by playing back tapes.  

Another good way, to learn the songs, is to go out with a more experienced birder who knows the songs and which birds are most likely to occur in a particular habitat.  

Or you can just sit back and enjoy the moment. It’s amazing how wonderful a morning cup of coffee can be when you’re sitting outside with the cacophony of sounds that nature has to offer.

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