Saturday, October 31, 2015

Warblers in the Mist

A common winter sight in my yard: five Yellow-rumped Warblers gathering around a birdbath.

Twice each year, birders here in Florida have the chance to scour the local forests in the hope of seeing a few migrating warblers.  It can be a frustrating experience.  Many warblers tend to use the top of the canopy, making it difficult to see them through many layers of leaves and branches.  And those little things are never still!  They seem to move constantly!  You see a warbler, raise your binoculars to your eyes, and the bird has moved.  You search the surrounding area and spot a flash of yellow, but it moves before you can look for a single field mark.  It's really exciting when you finally get a good look at one of these beauties, but it doesn't happen often enough.  In the end, a ten warlber day is a really good one.

And then there are those days when the warblers come to you.  You see, like all birds, warblers need water.  They really enjoy a good bath and a playful splashing in the pool.  If you're lucky enough to have a shallow puddle with some dripping or misting water, the warblers just might pay you a visit.  When they do, you can watch them at leisure and see things that are rarely seen in the field.  So here are a baker's dozen of warblers enjoying the cool water on a hot day.

•A twelve-month resident of north central Florida, the Yellow-throated Warbler is always a joy to see in the woods.  But it's an extra pleasure to watch one take a dip right in front of you and hang around for a few minutes.
Yellow-throated Warbler

•Okay, it's confession time.  I frequently sing in the shower.  I was emboldened to fess up by this Pine Warbler who shares my joy at hitting a good note while enjoying a soaking. 
Pine Warbler

•Common Yellowthroats are present here all year and inhabit brushy, marshy areas.  So what would draw this male to a little puddle in the middle of a suburban area with not a single marsh in sight?  I don't know the answer, I just know that it was quite a pleasure to see him.
Common Yellowthroat

•This Worm-eating Warbler splashed around for a long time, thoroughly soaking himself.  In my opinion, he went way beyond bathing -- he was playing.
Worm-eating Warbler

 •The Hooded Warbler can be a really secretive bird, more often heard than seen.   So it was a pleasure to see this guy visit the pool. 
Hooded Warbler

•So, how often have you seen the orange feathers on the head of the Orange-crowned Warbler?  I had never seen them until this bird flashed a spot of orange while bathing. 
Orange-crowned Warbler

•Look at the triangles of black dots on the underside of the Black-and-White Warbler's tail.  That's actually a pretty definitive field mark for the species.  However, it's typically seen only from below.  This little lady is just showing off!
Black-and-White Warbler

•I went four years without seeing a Magnolia Warbler, and this year I saw five.  Go figure.
Magnolia Warbler

•This photo speaks for itself.  The Blackburnian Warbler is one of the brilliant jewels of the birding world.
Blackburnian Warbler

•I think that around here we see more "Yellowstarts" (females and young birds) than male Redstarts in breeding plumage.  So when one hangs around the pool, it's a great treat.
American Redstart

•One of my absolute favorite warblers is the Black-throated Blue.  Seeing a male in the forest can be a challenge, and I never seem to be able to watch one for more than a few seconds at a time.  But this guy stayed for several minutes.  What a thrill!
Black-throated Blue Warbler

•After hanging around all summer, Northern Parulas are typically gone by late October.  Their return is a harbinger of summer.
Northern Parula