Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bulletin #152 - spring migration #1

I have been extremely busy so far this spring and not able to get out much. I hope that will change. I did manage a few trips to LaFitte's Cove in Galveston, over the last few weekends and got a taste of the flood of birds to come later in the month.
For those of you who didn't know, the warblers have undergone an extensive rearrangement of genuses and relationships within genuses last summer. Read Ken Kaufman's blog to learn more about it. I will use the new names going forward.
The first warbler here is the early migrating Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina). The male has a black hood, yellow face and underparts and olive back. The lateral tail feathers are white and the bird fans its tail frequently.Very easy to ID.
Hooded Warbler - male
The female lacks the black hood, but has the suggestion of a hood. As it is rather non-descript, the white lateral tail feathers are important to make the ID of the female. The white feathers on sides of the tail can be seen on both these photos.
Hooded Warbler - female
The Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) is another stunning beauty. It is all yellow with blue-gray wings and no wing bars. It has a long beak. The sexes are similar, but the male is brighter. I find them difficult to distinguish.
Prothonotary Warbler
Next is another of my favorites (I guess I like them all!). The Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus) is brown above, beige below and it has a characteristic striped crown. They are an easy warbler to ID due to the head stripes. The sexes are similar.
Worm-eating Warbler
The Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) as the name implies is only black and white. It has a white median crown stripe that is its distinguishing field mark. This male has black cheeks. The female has white cheeks. It tends to feed like a nuthatch going up and down the trunks and large branches of the trees. This bird was very close and turned to look at me.
Black-and-white Warbler - male
Speaking of turning to look at me, this Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus) assumed the childish pose of sticking his tongue out at the camera as if to say ' don't take my picture'. This bird is very similar to the Prothonotary above. However, it has 2 white wing bars and a thin black line from the eye to the beak. The sexes are similar.
Blue-winged Warbler
One of the more sought after birds in spring is the Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosus). It is olive above, yellow below, no wing bars and a black mustache. The male shown here has extensive black on the face.
Kentucky Warbler - female
Next is one of the more hard to ID birds. I think it is a Philadelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus). It is hard to separate from the Warbling Vireo. However, this bird has a yellow throat and darkish line through the eye making me think it is a Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Vireo
An unusual sighting was a pair of Brown Thrashers (Toxostoma rufum) at the drip. I had never seen a pair of them together before. I presume it was a male who displayed by fanning his wings and tail to his mate.
Brown Thrasher - displaying
I am going on a vacation Saturday to a place where I have never photographed the birds before, so hopefully I will have some interesting pictures for you when I return.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2012 David McDonald

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