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May Was Spring Warbler Season.

June 4, 2016


May 2016 was a good month for me photography-wise.  When it comes to taking photos of Warblers, luck largely rules- you can have a bunch of terrible or missed pictures, or you can have a handful of decent shots.  I got a higher-than-normal amount of decent shots this year.

Wood Warblers are neotropical migrants, birds that breed in the US or Canada and winter in Central or South America.  They tend to be colorful, which makes them quite popular with birders and photographers- especially in the spring, when the males are in their brightest breeding plumage.  But as any birder can tell you, Warblers can be difficult to see or photograph.  They move frequently and spend much of their time in the leafed-out canopies of trees, searching for insects.  I’ve gone whole migration seasons without getting a good shot of them before.

Not last month though- I was out every decent-weather morning in various parks, and got some decent shots.  Here they are, I hope you enjoy them.

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

These hardy birds will eat poison ivy berries- most Warblers are insect-eaters exclusively.  They occasionally winter over in Ohio, surviving on such berries.

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Yellow Warbler

One of the most common breeding Warblers in Ohio- they love scrubby fields and shrubs near water.  Their song is the classic ‘sweet, sweet, sweeter than sweet’

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Common Yellowthroat

Perhaps the most common breeding Warbler in Ohio, they love scrubby fields and shrubs.  They scold me all the time when I walk through their territory (like this little guy did) during nesting time.

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Northern Parula Warbler

Beautiful small Warblers with a distinctive whooshing-type song.

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American Redstart (first year male)

A common warbler.  Mature adult males are black and orange, the females are olive green and yellow- almost looking like different species.

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Black-Throated Green Warbler

These birds don’t seem to hide as much as other Warbler species.  Their ‘zu zee zu zu zee’ song is easy to identify.

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Black-Throated Blue Warbler

I often have trouble getting a good look at this species, but this individual cooperated nicely by singing mere feet away from me.

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Black And White Warbler

This species is very distinctive, moving around on tree limbs and trunks as if it were a Nuthatch.

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Nashville Warbler

I usually get better looks at Nashvilles but for some reason this year they didn’t show themselves to me!

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Palm Warbler

Palms sometimes forage for food on the ground and in tall grass.  They often are the last Warblers seen late in autumn migration.

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Blue-Winged Warbler

For some reason I’ve always had a hard time getting a decent shot of this species, but this one posed nicely for me for a few seconds- forever in Warbler time.

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Magnolia Warbler

Magnolias- strikingly beautiful birds- are middle to late season migrants.  They often stay hidden in bushes.

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Blackpoll Warbler

Blackpolls aren’t the showiest Warblers, but they often elude my camera.  Not this year!  Notice how this bird is searching for insects, turning its head to look everywhere.  A typical no-nonsense Warbler foraging behavior.

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Chestnut-Sided Warbler

This gorgeous bird peeked out of a shrub and looked directly at me.  I saw him by sheer luck.

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Bay-Breasted Warbler

Bay-Breasteds are another Warbler species that typically avoids me.  I was happy to get these shots.

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Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnians have that brilliant orange-red head and throat.  You can glimpse them through the leaves quite easily with that glowing color.

I just realized I didn’t get a decent shot of a Yellow-Throated Warbler this spring.  That’s a shame, they often can be seen in tall Sycamore Trees along rivers.  I also missed any decent shots of Tennessee Warblers.

I hope next May is as good to me as this one was!  I’ll try to get plenty of shots of Wood Warblers as they come back through Ohio heading south for the winter in September during autumn migration.  They aren’t as brightly-colored then because mating and nesting season will be over.  They are often harder to identify due to this, and because immature younger Warblers tend to look different than adults.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2016 4:13 pm

    Wow! You did real well this spring. We went up to Magee Marsh once but were having so much success around here we didn’t make another trip.

  2. June 4, 2016 5:17 pm

    An impressive bag of warblers.

  3. June 4, 2016 10:15 pm

    Great shots Tracy! Especially like the warbler in motion.

  4. June 5, 2016 11:33 am

    A beautiful bevy of photos, Tracy! I will have to keep an eye out for warblers here in W. Pa. – lovely creatures.

  5. Mary B permalink
    June 11, 2016 8:48 pm

    Beautiful photos! You weren’t kiddong

  6. June 19, 2016 10:13 am

    This was very educational. I now realize that I may have mistaken yellow warblers for goldfinches. What a lovely variety they come in!

  7. July 24, 2016 11:57 pm

    You did have a great season of warblers! It looks like several were singing for you, too.

    • July 26, 2016 8:07 pm

      It was my best Warbler photography spring ever, Patti! I was very happy. I have to admit I was out every good-weather morning in the month of May, so I had plenty of chances to see them!

  8. July 31, 2016 9:32 am

    Hi Tracy,
    I stumbled on your blog while looking for information on Northern Cardinals molting. I too am a novice birder and learning how to take photos worthy of posting on my own website (which I am also teaching myself how to create and manage). Thank you for sharing your experience with the world. It gives me hope that one day I too will have a great following and a library of photos all nature lovers can enjoy.

    • July 31, 2016 9:46 am

      Many thanks and best of luck Karen! Be sure to share your website here when you are up and running!


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