Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bulletin 217 - Best of 10 years - #2 - warblers

There are 55 species of new world warblers in Sibley's birding guide, so selecting a dozen is a challenge, but here are my picks for the best of my first 10 years. I thought I would do them now with spring migration just around the corner.

The rarest bird in North America is the critically endangered Kirtland's Warbler. There are just several hundred pairs in the Jack Pine forests of northern Michigan. In the summer of 2013, I went there and took a tour into an area where they occur. They are easy to see as the males perch on top of the 6-8 foot trees to sing.

Kirtland's Warbler

The Connecticut Warbler is also a bird that we in Texas have to travel to see, as it migrates through Florida. I saw it on the same trip to Michigan. The gray hood and large white eye ring ID this warbler.

Connecticut Warbler

The Mourning Warbler was also seen on the Michigan trip. It can be found on the upper Texas coast both spring and fall, but is rare. The male is IDed by the gray hood, black breast band and no eye ring.

Mourning Warbler

There are 2 warblers in North America that occur only in Texas. Birders from Canada and the USA have to make a trip to Texas to see these ones. The endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler breeds only in the Hill Country of Texas. The male is IDed by the yellow face, black throat and black line through the eye.

Golden-cheeked Warbler
The Colima Warbler breeds in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park in west Texas. This is probably the most difficult bird I have photographed, as it took a whole day to hike up the trail to where they breed in the mountains. It is IDed by all gray color, yellow under the tail and the prominent eye ring.

Colima Warbler
Most warblers have some yellow coloration. However, this cute Red-faced Warbler from southeast Arizona, is gray with a red face and black hat.

Red-faced Warbler
The male Black-throated Blue Warbler has a blue back, black throat and prominent white wing patch. It is seen occasionally in spring and fall in southeast Texas.

Black-throated Blue Warbler
The last group are commonly seen during spring migration on the upper Texas coast. The dazzling male Blackburnian Warbler is my favorite.

Blackburnian Warbler

Another orange and black warbler is the male American Redstart.

American Redstart

The Yellow-throated Warbler is a common bird in the early spring. However, it was a nemesis bird for me to photograph. I finally got a photograph in 2010. It is IDed by the black and white overall color and bright yellow throat.
Yellow-throated Warbler

The male Bay-breasted Warbler  is striking with his rusty cap and flanks.

Bay-breasted Warbler

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald

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