Thursday, September 29, 2016

Late Fall Warblers

A Few Lingering Species

I recently checked out the few species of fall warblers remaining in my area.  They were well hidden in the foliage but so enjoyable to see.  Most warblers migrate in late August and early September.  Each year there are always a few stragglers.  It was these I was looking for.
Palm Warbler
Warblers lose the bright colours of their breeding plumage in late summer.  They turn more muted, often more yellowish and some even show a dramatic change.  This makes fall warblers difficult to identify.  Experience is the best teacher.  Just getting out and seeing many warblers helps one learn to identify fall warblers.  Shown above is a Palm Warbler in fall (or basic) plumage.  The bright yellow body feathers are muted and the bright rusty cap is nearly gone.  I saw many of them in one area which would indicate they were migrating together.

Black-and-white Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Both the Black-and-white Warbler and the Common Yellowthroat shown above are in basic plumage.  The Black-and-white looks ratty and it has lost the sharp demarcation between the stripes.  The Common Yellowthroat is much more muted.  The brilliant yellow is gone and the black mask is barely discernible.  Often the species can be recognized by their habitat, their behaviour and the way they move.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is also in basic plumage and is very muted in colour.  The bright yellow spots of spring are still visible but much less so.  The dark colours are washed out.

The Blue-headed Vireo is still around in small numbers.  As shown below, it is still showing its breeding plumage although it is just beginning to look a bit muted.

Blue-headed Vireo
Fall warblers, though a challenge to identify,  make interesting birding.  Get yourself a good guide to birds and go outside and find a few.  You will enjoy it!

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