Warbler Waves

Last night it was pretty quiet in the woods, but if one listened very carefully one could hear soft chips coming from the bushes. A little pishing and sometimes a bird would come out and show its self. In this manner I saw 3 Warbler species last night. Nashville Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Magnolia Warbler.

The Nashville was interesting – you usually do not see the little bit of red thats on the top of the head, but this guy was riled up and had the red sticking up! This is the first time I have gotten a really good look at the little bit of chestnut on top of the head. This link takes you to a photo of a Nashville where you can see the red on the head. It’s funny that the bird guides show the little patch, but they don’t point it out. Nashville Warbler

The Nashville doesn’t really lose their breeding plumage, but the Chestnut-sided Warbler does lose it’s distinctive breeding plumage. Last week I saw a molting adult and last night there were juveniles in the family group. They have yellow wing bars and a yellow-green cap on their head.

Fall Warblers can be especially challenging. If you are lucky enough to pick one out in all the green leaves, a Warbler that has lost it’s bright breeding plumage can be tricky to identify. There was a wonderfully insightful article in last fall’s MN Conservation Volunteer magazine. The author pointed out other ways to help identify fall Warblers by noting particular behaviors and habitats. Time of year is also another helpful clue – some Warblers migrate much earlier than others.

Warblers usually migrate with other birds, so if you hear Chickadees calling, be sure to check out every flock – there could be a few other birds mixed in. Last August I got a Black-throated Blue Warbler in exactly this way. I pished a little bit and he came right out on an open branch and took a look at me and then continued on his business of gleaning bugs off the branches and leaves of a small bush.

Take a look at the excellent article that was in last fall’s MN Volunteer: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteer/sepoct06/warblers.html

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