Mourning Warbler

A week ago I was out at Blendon Woods Metro Park on the northeast side of Columbus.  I was wrapping up the spring migration season at a park that has a great reputation for hosting plenty of warblers as they move through the area.  In particular, I was looking for a specific hard-to-spot warbler that had been seen singing here the day before.  Little did I know that I would end up holding this bird in my two hands this morning…

At Blendon Woods, there is a section called the Walden Waterfowl Refuge.  This 118-acre area includes Thoreau Lake, known for attracting waterfowl, and two observation shelters along the shore of the lake for close-up viewing of said waterfowl.  It’s quite a nice viewing area- here’s what it looks like.

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This particular morning I was looking for a particular bird migrating through the area- it could be heard singing in the nearby thickets.  This bird is not easy to see- though to be fair, the summer-like foliage of late May was making it hard to see most birds.

I had been in the northern duck blind once before already, but I decided to go back inside to look around the area.  As soon as I walked in, I saw something on the floor…

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At first glance, walking in the blind from the bright morning sunshine, it looked like a sparrow sitting on the floor.  A bird had flown in, perhaps through the observation slits, and couldn’t get back out.  But then I noticed the olive and yellow colors.  This was the bird I had driven to the park to see!

The bird flew up to the window sill, able to see the outdoors but unable to get past the windows.

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I watched as it pecked at the barrier, trying to escape its enclosure.  I took some more photos.  I had no idea I’d get to see this bird inside the duck blind!

It rested on the window sill, looking at me.

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This is a Mourning Warbler, and the black and gray bib indicates that this is a male.  This species summers north of Ohio, preferring second-growth forest as a habitat.  It usually stays well-hidden in vegetation, so seeing it like this was a rare treat.  It’s much easier to hear this bird sing than it is to see it singing.  And its song is rather distinctive.

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I moved closer to try to get him out of the duck blind.  He hunkered down in the corner of the window sill,  breathing rapidly.  I had to move fast, or he might die from the stress of being cornered.

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Here’s the last photo I took before scooping him up in my hands and putting him out through the observation slit (probably the way he got into the blind in the first place).  He sat in my palm for a second, and then took off flying over the pond.

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It was amazing seeing this bird so closely.  I’m glad I could help him on his way- I wouldn’t be surprised if he flew towards Michigan as fast as he could!

You never know when you’ll run across such natural beauty in close quarters.  All’s well that ends well.  I hope you raise a big family this summer, fella!