Today, May 12, was a special day. The sun was warm, so I took time to sit in the backyard and watch the birds. I had never seen a magnolia warbler on my property before. Thus, this article.
The blue-winged warbler is an acrobatic bird, often seen hanging upside down. It feeds on insects, tree buds and vines. It specializes on insects that occupy tree leaves and twigs. Don't look for it low to the ground or high in the trees. It prefers the middle heights. Its nest is a deep cup near the ground that is composed of leaves and shredded bark. Bark shreds, grass stems and hair soften the nest. You would find this warbler in successional habitats where grasslands are changing to young forests.
The yellow warbler has the biggest breeding area in the United States and Canada. This bird is second only to the song sparrow in receiving cowbird eggs in its nest. However, they can simply build an additional nest on top of the first one which makes the lower eggs too cold to survive. If you pish to attract the yellow, you'll get a response very soon. As if you didn't know it by its bright color, it will pump its tail, too. It forages for insects (especially yummy larvae) on the outer edges of plants. It loves to sing in the top of tall deciduous trees.
The male yellow warbler is stunning with the stripes on its upper breast.
Photo by Dave Cooney
A chestnut-sided makes its home every spring in my trees. It reminds some folks of a gnatcatcher by cocking its tail and drooping its wings. Its food is under the leaves of middle-sized trees and undergrowth. It can hover while it eats. If you hear one in the spring, look for its nest in small deciduous shrubs and trees.
The yellow-rumped is usually the first warbler that I see in the spring. Sometimes, it spends the winter here, as noted on Audubon's Christmas bird count. It would be wonderful to see the male display to the female before mating. It puffs out the side and crown feathers and raises its wings.
The black-throated green's back and crown are bright green, the throat black, and it has wide black lines on its sides. Insects are gleaned on twig leaves, but not tips, while the bird hovers. Caterpillars are a favorite.
The American redstart's head and upper back are black. The sides and primary coverts on the wings are reddish-orange. After responding to your pishing, it will spread out drooping wings and fan its tail.
The ovenbird's distinctive markings are a bold white eye ring and very dark black streaks on its white breast. It has a unique walk. The tail goes up and the wings droop down. Sometimes, it bobs its head. This is a ground feeder.
The common yellowthroat reminds me of one of my childhood heroes with its black mask. Look for it in shrubs and weeds near marshes. Staying low, it feeds on weeds, reeds and rushes. It reminds me of a wren because of its nervous tail twitching. Unlike the ovenbird, it hops instead of walking on the ground. It gleans insects right off the muddy spots or on low shrubs.
The hooded has a unique yellow face surrounded by black on the crown, down and up the throat. It has a habit of opening and shutting its tail fast, horizontally. Fast means about once a second. Find it close to the ground and even on the ground feeding, often by hovering, on arthropods.
The Canada's distinctive features include a grey back, white eye-ring and yellow supralorals, the area above and between the eye and bill, and dark stripes in a necklace. Mostly finding food in the lower tree story, it will also make short trips to find flying insects in the shrubs and insects and arthropods on the shrub leaves.
Just a little to the east of us, in Allegheny State Park, you could find the Nashville, magnolia, blackburnian, and black and white warblers, and the northern waterthrush in their breeding territory.
Keep life simple. Eat, sleep, bird. Most importantly, protect their habitats.