Archive for the ‘Warbler Summer’ Category

Male Wilson's Warbler. Photo by Michael Woodruff from Spokane, Washington, USA (Wilson's Warbler) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Male Wilson's Warbler. Photo by Michael Woodruff, Spokane, WA.

Wilson’s Warbler was named for Alexander Wilson, a Scottish immigrant who later became known as the father of American ornithology. His work 200 years ago inspired many future ornithologists of both the professional and armchair varieties.

Discovered in 1811, Wilson’s Warbler is a mostly-yellow, insect-eating, tail-twitching migrant that is found during the summer months from the heat of California to the wilds of Alaska and across most of Canada. It is often confused with the Yellow Warbler, but can be distinguished by the male Wilson’s black cap and the rufous streaks on the breast of the male Yellow. The females are a little trickier, but telling them apart can be done. The female Wilson’s has olive coloring on her back and crown and may even have the suggestion of a cap, while the female Yellow, who also has some olive coloring, has no cap but may have breast stripes like the male’s, though much lighter. Read on for more of the 411 on this adorable bird.

Scientific name: Cardellina pusilla (formerly Wilsonia pusilla)
Family: PARULIDAE

Size and markings: Wilson’s Warbler is a very small songbird at 4 – 4-3/4″ long with a wingspan of 7″. Both sexes have beautiful yellow undersides with olive backs and necks. The male has a black cap, while the female’s crown is olive. Juveniles resemble the females, though male juvies may show a trace of a smaller black cap.

Learn more about warblers in The Warbler Guide.

Food: Like other warblers, Wilson’s eats mostly insects, but will also eat fruit in the fall and winter. Insects are gleaned from twigs, branches, and leaves, often as this warbler hovers to pick them off. Wilson’s Warbler is also not above in-flight snacking, as it sometimes catches its prey in mid-air.

Habitat/nesting/behavior: Look for this small yellow bird flitting about in willows, cottonwoods, alders, thickets, and underbrush, especially near streams.

Number of broods per year: 1
Number of eggs per brood: 2-7

Migratory pattern: Winters are spent mostly in Mexico, Central America, and parts of the Southeastern U.S. There aren’t many places that don’t see this bird at some point during the year: Summer finds Wilson’s Warbler in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and most of Canada, including — of course — the Pacific Northwest’s own British Columbia. Breeding also occurs in parts of the American West. Most of the lower 48, with the exception of Florida, sees this warbler twice a year as it passes through on its migratory routes.

Months usually seen at backyard feeders: Not a feeder bird.


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

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Male Black-throated Gray Warbler. Photo by Dominic Sherony. Graphic by Pacific Northwest Birds.

Male Black-throated Gray Warbler. Photo by Dominic Sherony. Graphic by Pacific Northwest Birds.

The Black-throated Gray Warbler is a fairly tame bird. It isn’t going to come up and land on your shoulder, but if you are lucky enough to spy one as it searches for insects among the branches, it won’t be too easily scared off. Despite its reputation of being easy to watch, the American Ornithologists’ Union says there still isn’t much research to be found on this small songbird. We know it migrates to the Pacific Northwest to breed, and then returns to Mexico in the fall. We also know that it eats insects in the summer and will add fruit to its diet in the fall and winter. Sadly, that seems to be the extent of any information gleaned about this black, white, and gray warbler.

This also means that while we can be pretty sure these warblers have about four eggs at a time, on average, we don’t know how many broods (sets of eggs) it has per year, so that information will be missing in the write-up below. Nevertheless, the Black-throated Gray Warbler is still a fascinating bird, which I hope you’ll enjoy learning about. Here we go!

Scientific name: Setophaga nigrescens (formerly Dendroica nigrescens)
Family: PARULIDAE

Size and markings: The Black-throated Gray Warbler is 4.5 to 5” in length. The male has a white face, white underparts, gray back, and a black mask and crown. The female is more of a slate-gray where the male is black, with a white throat. Juvenile is even lighter than the female. All have white wing bars, gray striping on the chest, and a yellow spot in the lores (just in front of each eye).

Learn more about warblers in The Warbler Guide.

Food: The main diet of the Black-throated Gray is insects and caterpillars, though, like other warblers, it may also eat fruit in the fall and winter months.

Habitat/nesting/behavior: Because it hangs out at a lower altitude and will spend time in lower branches and shrubs searching for food, you are more likely to see this warbler than the Townsend’s or Hermit Warblers. The Black-throated Gray prefers pine forests and pine/mixed forests, especially when oak is present. This monogamous warbler builds a soft cup-shaped nest. The length of the incubation and nestling periods is not certain.

Number of broods per year: Unknown
Number of eggs per brood: 4

Migratory pattern: This warbler is seen in the Pacific Northwest during breeding months only, from northern California, west to southern Idaho, and north to Victoria Island and southern British Columbia. In Washington state and Oregon, it is mainly seen west of the Cascades.

Months usually seen at backyard feeders: Not a feeder bird.

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Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram!

A Yellow Warbler. This image is ready for sharing on Twitter, Instagram (via mobile), and Pinterest.

Some time back, I’d decided that this month…June…would be Warbler Month here at Pacific Northwest Birds. Over the past few weeks, however, I found myself with very little time to write and knew I would need to rethink my plans. So I thought about it and soon realized my late start on Warbler Month might not be such a bad thing. Why, after all, should we limit talking about warblers to just one month? And so Warbler Month has happily become Warbler Summer: For as long as these little darlings are in the Pacific Northwest, we’ll be learning about them. (We’ll be talking about other Northwest birds, too.)

If you’re following us on Instagram at pacificnorthwestbirds, you’ve already seen a couple of the fun graphics that have been posted. The latest one, left, features the Yellow Warbler, who is also our Bird of the Week.

Though a number of warblers with yellow plumage are sometimes confused with American Goldfinches, the Yellow Warbler is probably mistaken for them more than any other. This is the warbler that is most uniformly yellow, and if someone spots it who doesn’t know their birds as well as they’d like to (and we’ve all been at there at some point as birders), it is often assumed to be a goldfinch. If you’re one of those who’s confused the two (no shame), here’s a handy side-by-side of two males to help you out:

Left: Yellow Warbler (male). Photo: Mdf (Creative Commons) | Right: American Goldfinch (male). Photo: Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Left: Yellow Warbler (male). Photo: Mdf (Creative Commons) | Right: American Goldfinch (male). Photo: Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Read on to learn more about the Yellow Warbler.

Scientific name: Setophaga petechia
Family: Parulidae

Size and markings: 5″ long. Yellow with olive coloring from crown to rump. The male is more vibrant in color than the female and has rufous streaks on his chest and belly.

Food: The Yellow Warbler eats mainly insects and is especially fond of caterpillars.

Habitat/nesting/behavior: This warbler can be found nesting in riparian woodlands (wooded areas found close to rivers, streams, and lakes) and even shade trees in residential yards and parks. They are particularly fond of cottonwoods, alders, willows, and dense underbrush. The male is first to arrive in the spring, followed up to two weeks later by the female, who then builds the nest.

Number of broods per year: 1-2
Number of eggs per brood: 2-7

Migratory pattern: The breeding range of the Yellow Warbler covers most of North America, from Mexico to Alaska and northern Canada. Winters for this long-distance flyer are spent in Central America and northern South America.

Months usually seen at backyard feeders: Not typically seen at feeders.

Learn more about warblers in The Warbler Guide by Tom Stevenson and Scott Whittle and Stokes Field Guide to Warblers by Don and Lillian Stokes.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram!

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