Tag Archives: warblers

Warbler Neck


Warbler neck is a serious malady that affects all birders in May every year.  If you have ever spent 40 minutes staring up, searching every movement in the tree for the elusive warbler-of-the-moment, you know what I mean. Fortunately this chronic condition will relieve itself with time.  But hopefully not too soon.  What cool warblers have you been seeing?

One of my faves:


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Golden-winged Warblers-Yes!

I got out of the car with fingers crossed.  I had brought my house guests to see Golden-winged Warblers.  They had never seen them and the birds are declining.  Looking for Hooded Warblers weeks ago, I happened to have heard the Golden-winged at this spot.   So I knew they were around, but any time you go birding, especially during nesting season when the birds are quiet, it is a crap shoot.

After dousing ourselves with bug spray, we headed down the path to where I knew there were Hooded Warblers doing family duty.   Stopping to listen, we ticked off what we were hearing:  Hooded Warbler, Ovenbird, Warbling Vireo, Eastern Pewee, American Redstart…. From the corner of my eye I saw movement.  When I swung up my binoculars, I saw a beautiful Blue-winged Warbler, then a female Redstart dashed across my field of view.  As I followed her, there he was, a Gold-winged Warbler with his classic black triangle throat patch. I shouted to my friends.  “Hey, Goldens!”

Since there are both Blue-wings and Golden-wings nesting in the same spot, I left them ogling while I trotted back to the car to grab the Petersen to refresh on what the hybrids look like.  We saw no hybrids today.  But we did see a lot of Golden-wingeds.

The birding was amazing today. I need to get over there more often.

Our grand total: 32 species.  Great Blue Heron, a large family of Wood Ducks, a small family of Canada Geese, Broad-winged Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Wood-pewee, Great-crested Flycatcher, Tree Swallows, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Indigo Bunting, Veery, Catbird, Crow, Red-eyed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, American Redstart, Blue-winged Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Red-winged Blackbird, Phoebe, Yellow Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Towhee, Brown-headed Cowbird.

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The Importance of Sparrows


Commonly called LBJs or Little Brown Jobs, sparrows are notoriously hard to identify. This one is a Savannah Sparrow. Can you see the little bit of yellow by the eye? Classic.

I am fond of sparrows. They are ubiquitous yet overlooked in favor of the brighter, more colorful, more easily identified birds. Many of them have beautiful easy-to-learn songs, like the ol’ sam peabody of the white-throated sparrow or the ping-pong balls of the field sparrow or the distinctive maids, maids, maids, of the song sparrow. I always try to spend time with sparrows.

Let me tell you a sparrow story. I was with my sister at Point Reyes National Seashore in California at the end of September for our birthdays. This was a few years ago. It was cold and windy out on the point. I was standing in a field birding every bird looking for a golden-crowned sparrow, a life bird for me. There were hundreds of sparrows, popping up and down, mostly white-crowned. My sister is a good birder but after way-too-many LBJs, she wandered off to look at a Say’s Phoebe and to ogle the California Quail. Finally a golden-crowned sat on the top branch of a bush, I shouted for her to come see it, but she was on a Black-throated Gray Warbler, also a life bird for me. I abandoned extolling the virtues of the sparrow and dashed over for the warbler. Totally fickle right? Thankfully I have seen many golden-crowned sparrows and savannah sparrows after that in California and Alaska but I have only ever seen the black-throated gray warbler just that once.

Thanks Gale for being bored of LBJs.

But if we hadn’t have been hours in that field sorting out sparrows, we would never have seen the black-throated gray. The morale of the story is–Spend time with sparrows, you never know who is hanging out with them.


Filed under Photos, Travel

Birding a powercut

I parked the car and stepped out to the hiss and singing of the high-tension wires overhead in the powercut. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise. Until I moved north, I had never considered birding a powercut. Heck, I don’t think I even knew there were birds near the wires. It is a little scary. But the birding is glorious. Many birds like the second growth of the large swath kept cleared by the power company.

Ignore the raised hair on your arms. Pay no attention to the wires. Stop. Listen. There. Do you hear it? The chickbur of a scarlet tanager. C’mon, let’s go. On the way up the hill there was the sweetness of yellow warblers, the bee buzz of the blue-winged warblers and the throaty monotony of the yellow-billed cuckoo. The chestnut-sided warblers all around were so pleased to meetcha.  My head swiveled searching the cacophony of sound for movement. I saw indigo bunting, chestnut-sided warblers, prairie warblers, and the increasingly rare golden-winged warbler. Many of these birds are a crap-shoot to find during migration but are a sure thing in a powercut. Wait. There is a flash of scarlet dashing from one side of the cut to the other. Ahhhhh.

Go down a back road road, to a dirt road to another dirt road, somewhere you will find a powercut. My favorite powercut is off Paradise Road but the one on Van Orden is also good.

Some of the best birding is in unlikely places.


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Warbler Show in Central Park

I had been looking forward to today since a frigid day in January, when a friend from work planted the seed of the idea; let’s go birding in Central Park in May for migration. It may sound odd, but the birding in the middle of Manhattan is superb. The outing grew to 5 of us. We had been carefully monitoring the ListServs for weeks. Deb works in the City and had checked out the park on several occasions. Both she and Pam used to live in the City and knew the park well. We were ready.

I drove into the City with one friend to meet the others and spend the day doing what we love best. As we walked toward the Diana Ross playground clutching our Starbucks coffees, Di said, “I hear a Parula.” We froze, scanning the trees. This is why we had come–to see warblers. And see warblers we did. This weekend there happened by chance to be a fallout. There were warblers in almost every tree. We birded the Ramble, the Gill, the Grassy Knoll, and the trees along Central Park West from 81st-70th. The birds were mostly in the oaks, plucking tiny green worms from the catkins. In the end we saw 50 species of birds with 13 warblers. Our full list is below.

We saw:

Magnolia Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Blue-winged Warbler, Redstart, Nashville Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Barn Swallow, Rough-winged Swallow, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Palm Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue-headed Vireo, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Cardinal, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ring-billed Gull, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Hermit Thrush, Catbird, Veery, Wood Thrush, Rusty Blackbird, House Wren, Brown Thrasher, Broad-winged hawk, Red-tailed Hawk (Pale Male), Grackle, Double-crested Cormorant, Mallard, Goldfinch, Cedar Waxwing, Robin, White-breasted Nuthatch, Canada Goose, Chipping Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Solitary Sandpiper.

My favorite? Black-throated Green Warbler. The name of my other blog is derived from their song.


Filed under migration, Photos, Travel

Birding in the Rain

Early arrival at Wawayanda State Park

I’m birding in the rain
Just birding in the rain
What a glorious feelin’
To see warblers again.

Ok, it was just a passing thought, as I stood in the 40-degree drizzle looking up at dozens of Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumps and 6 or 7, maybe even 10, kinglets (they were everywhere the warblers were. Their ruby crowns were standing up like tiny mohawks). Wait, be still my heart, over there…see it…it’s a Louisiana Waterthrush tail-wagging along the rushing mountain stream. Ah, life is good. I am so glad I detoured to the local state park on my way to do errands. Yes, I know it is not really on the way to anywhere, but most detours are not.

Today’s list was Am. Kestrel, Eastern Phoebes, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, RC Kinglets, Downy WP, Yellow -shafted Flickers, Pileated WP, Tree Swallows, Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrows, LA Waterthrush, Robins, RW Blackbirds, Grackle, Turkey Vultures, and way too many Cowbirds.


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