Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wilson's Warbler and more!

This morning, I got up to do some birding as I often do this time of year. I often get up early to listen for nocturnally-migrating birds to add a few extra species that I might not see later on. However, I was exhausted last night, so I woke up at 6am, fairly late by birders' standards. When I went outside, I immediately headed to the woods. Right away, I heard the common woodland species: Ovenbirds, Black-and-white Warblers, and Scarlet Tanagers. Once I reached the ridgetop meadow on the property, I started to hear other species. Several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Eastern Towhees, and Field Sparrows were singing along with the large flock of warblers that included Yellow-rumped, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Prairie, Worm-eating, Nashville, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart.

Once my neck was sore from watching all of the warblers, I headed back towards the house. Just up the hill from the house is a fenced in area that once held in goats. Now, the area is filled with young aspen trees. These trees must have been filled with insects, as there were loads of warblers here as well! Right away I heard both Yellow and Chestnut-sided Warblers singing from the patch of trees. The proximity of these birds allowed for a good comparison of these two similar-sounding species. Not long after, a Magnolia Warbler and several Yellow-rumped Warblers began singing.

As I was about to head to another area of the yard, I heard an unfamiliar song. As I continued to listen, I realized that I was listening to the song of a Wilson's Warbler. I had only seen this species in the yard once before, so this was an exciting find. The cooperative bird allowed me to record its song and photograph it before it flew away. Later in the day, I refound the bird in some fruit trees near the house. The final warbler of the morning was a Canada Warbler that was singing from a greenbriar thicket on the edge of the yard.

Today was an awesome day for birding in the yard -- I ended with 77 species including 19 warbler species!

Here is the audio and a photo of the Wilson's Warbler that showed up in the yard today:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Birds and Butterflies!

Finally, spring is fully here! Over the past few weeks, many species of birds have been arriving to the region. So far, much of the migration has been of warblers, with vireos, thrushes, and others to arrive soon.

Worm-eating Warblers are one of my favorite warbler species. Although the song of the WEWA is not nearly as melodic as many warbler species, it is exciting to hear it from the densest areas of forested hillsides where this species breeds. I found this individual who was singing and searching for food in an area where this species bred last year.

Northern Parula
Northern Parulas do not breed in the areas around my house, but they are common migrants in the spring and fall. This gorgeous bird stopped to feed in the apple tree next to the house.

Nashville Warbler
In the same tree as the parula above, this Nashville Warbler also stopped by to feed on the plentiful insects that visit the apple blossums. This species is never common in this area, but I have seen or heard several of them in the past few days. Note the red on top of the bird's head, a characteristic rarely seen in the field.

Wood Ducks
Warblers are not the only birds migrating! I spotted these, and several other, Wood Ducks flying overhead.

Eastern Comma
This Eastern Comma stopped for a sip of nectar on an ornamental cherry tree. This species, and the similar Question Mark, are common springtime butterflies of forests. Eastern Comma seems to prefer upland woodlands and the Question Mark inhabits creek and river edges.

I found this Eastern Pine Elfin on its foodplant, Pitch Pine. This species only appears for a short time in spring and is a treat to find. Pine elfins are most commonly found in upland barrens with pines.

Eastern Pine Elfin
One of two Eastern Pine Elfins I found this weekend.