April and May are two of my favorite months of the year here in Ohio- this is the spring migration season for many songbirds, and they are showing off their best colors in preparation for attracting a mate and raising a family. This means that they are easier to identify! As the weather warms up, more insects come out, and migratory birds that wintered in the southern US and Central and South America are heading north, assured of a steady food supply.
Among my favorite types of birds are Wood Warblers– these small colorful birds are hearty insect-eaters who winter in southern areas but come north for the nesting season. They are a highlight of the birding year for me as I scramble to take their pictures.
Spring of 2012 came somewhat early this year in Ohio- it was warmer earlier in the season, which caused the trees to leaf out a couple weeks early. This meant it was a bit of a greater challenge to get pictures of birds such as Warblers, who often hang out in tree canopies searching for insects among the leaves. It was a bit harder to see them clearly with lots of large mature leaves to obscure them.
Last September, I posted about autumn Warblers. It’s interesting to compare how these birds look in both the spring and the autumn.
Spring migration comes in waves. Certain species tend to go by at certain times. Not that migration is predictable- there are a variety of factors that influence it, such as weather patterns- but some birds are known for showing up early, others bring up the rear. Over several migration seasons, you can sense patterns.
Here are some images I took of various Warblers this spring- I hope you enjoy them. Remember, most of these birds traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to get here, and some of them continued on for hundreds of miles further north. I never cease to be amazed at this journey, and their natural beauty.
As always, you can click on the images to get a better view.
This Warbler is an exceptional year-round resident of Ohio- I posted about them last January. Now, these birds are much more colorful. This is one of the more common Warbler species in my state, and always a welcome sight- I seem to be able to get closer to them than other species. They’re quite distinctive-looking.
This brilliant bird nests in Ohio in tree cavities in wet wooded areas- I saw this one up at Hoover Reservoir where super volunteer Charlie Bombaci has placed hundreds of nesting boxes for them to use. They aren’t very numerous, so you have to go looking for them. They are well worth the search!
This handsome masked Warbler is a common Ohio nester. You can hear their ‘witchity witchity witchity’ calls in the spring and summer. They can often be difficult to see because they like to hang out in thickets, but this one posed quite nicely for me when I walked by on a path too close to his territory in a field. He came out to scold me, and I hurried on after taking several pictures.
Another common Ohio nesting Warbler. Listen for their song, which often goes: ‘sweet sweet, sweeter than sweet’. The male has chestnut-colored streaks on his breast. This is another bird that I can often get fairly close to.
A common Ohio migrant Warbler, listen for the distinctive buzzy ‘zu zee zu zu zee’ call. This bird has found something to eat in the treetop where I photographed him one fine sunny spring morning.
Not only is this bird distinctively colored, but it behaves more like a Nuthatch than a Warbler, moving up and down tree trunks and big branches in search of insects. This makes them easier to see than Warblers who are foraging through leaves.
This bird is noted for its bright orange throat- this makes it easier to identify up in the treetops.
This bird has a distinctive chestnut face and yellow breast.
The bright yellow cap and chestnut sides identify this Warbler. This male was hiding in a leafy thicket while singing, but I managed to take his picture anyway!
This striking bird was one of the later spring Warbler migrants that I had the pleasure of photographing.
Another common migrant Warbler, this species is quite distinctive-looking with its yellow breast, blue-gray back and white eye-ring.
The olive back and white eye-ring really stand out on this yellow-breasted bird. This pose demonstrates typical Warbler acrobatics as they search through leaves for tasty morsels.
With its rufous cap and yellow throat and undertail, this bird is rather distinctive. I saw a decent amount of them this year.
This beautiful bird is one of the smaller Warblers, measuring in at around 4 and a half inches long. Such a tiny migrant is quite impressive to me.
The coloration on this species stands out- the males are black and orange, the females are olive and yellow. They have wing and tail patches that flash their primary color as they flutter through the foliage.
This handsome bird nests in Ohio- I almost always see them in Sycamore Trees near rivers. It’s often easier to hear them than to see them.
Keep an eye out for these colorful birds- they are a spring treat!