Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bulletin #35 - UTC warblers, vireos

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
April 24, 2008

Bulletin #35 – Upper Texas Coast – warblers & vireos

Hello friends,

Thank you to all who emailed me their compliments on last weeks bulletin of the warblers. It is appreciated!

Here are a few more warblers from various locations this spring so far.

The Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrine) is a common warbler here in the spring and it nests locally and all across the southeast USA. It generally stays low to the ground in bushes.

The male is bright yellow with a contrasting black hood. The female is duller, but the hood is faint, but unmistakable. They also have white edges on the tail. Here are 2 photos of the male and 1 of the female. click 'next' twice

The Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)is a warbler of marshes. He also breeds locally. The male is the ‘masked bandit’ as I call him with his black face. The female is similar, but without the black mask. Here is a photo of the male.

Next is the Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea), one of only 2 blue warblers in the USA. The male is blue above with white breast with black streaks. The female is blue-green above with a bluish head. The underparts are white with mild streaking. This is a first year female, as her breast is washed in yellow. The 2 white wingbars help ID this species in any plumage. click 'next' once

The last warbler is the Northern Parula (Parula americana). This warbler is gray, with 2 white wing bars, green back and yellow breast. There may be some stripe across the breast. In addition, it has a broken white eye-ring. This eye-ring separates the species form its cousin the Tropical Parula.

Here is the male with reddish and black breast bands.

The female lacks the black breast band. I don’t have a photo of her, but I do have the 1st year female. She has clear yellow breast – no bands.

Vireos are a separate family of small birds. Beginning birders often get the two confused. Vireos have thicker bills, and the upper bill is hooked at the end.

The most commonly seen vireo here is the White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus). It is a gray green bird with white breast, 2 wing bars and yellow ‘spectacles’. The yellow around the eye and white throat is diagnostic. The white iris is sometimes visible at close range.

The Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) is the next most abundant vireo seen in migration. It has a grayish head and olive back – almost brown looking. It is often confused with the Tennessee Warbler. The red eye iris is seldom seen and this year I got the first photos to actually show the iris.

The Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) is a beautiful vireo with blue-gray head, white spectacles, green back, wing bars and a yellowish breast. For those of you who can’t find this bird in your older filed guide, it used to be called the Solitary Vireo. Solitary Vireo was split into 3 species several years ago. The Blue-headed form is the one we have in the eastern USA. It is also rather common and in fact winters on the Upper Texas Coast. I see them in my yard occasionally over the winter.

The vireo hooked beak is easily seen in this photo.

Lastly is the Philadelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus). This is a relatively uncommon bird in migration compared to the 3 above. However, I managed to get one in the camera lens during the fall-out at LaFitte’s Cove on April 12th. This is a drab gray bird with a little yellow on the throat. But the most important distinguishing feature is the black spot in front of the eye.

Here are a couple of photos of this bird. click 'next' once

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2008 David McDonald

No comments: