For the Birds: Waiting for warblers

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in several New England newspapers.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler sits on a deck railing in New England this fall.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Pine Warbler at feeder in Danbury, Conn., fall 2015.

Finally, I thought, a warbler singing in the backyard.

It’s been a long winter and the pine warbler I usually hear by the end of the first week of April never materialized. The first week of April turned into the second week and still no warblers to be seen or heard — at least on my end.

One cool, but bright morning last week, I stepped out onto the deck to fill the feeders and heard a high-pitched, soft and somewhat melodic tune coming from a giant oak. Surely a warbler, I thought, but I wasn’t sure which one.

I grabbed the binoculars, which always hang at the ready just inside the door. Now to find the little bugger. The leaves haven’t popped yet, so this shouldn’t be too tough, I told myself. It was more difficult than I thought, of course, but I finally zeroed in on a little bird high up on the trunk.

As you can probably tell from the build-up, it wasn’t a warbler at all. It was a brown creeper — a small, brown bird seen on tree trunks throughout New England, mostly in the fall, winter and spring. Usually the birds are silent as they look for insects by starting at the bottom of a tree trunk and working their way up.

In fact, I think this may have been the first time I consciously heard the song of a brown creeper. The website AllAboutBirds.org describes the song, sung only by males, as such: “His song is a jumble of high, thin notes that lasts up to 1.5 seconds. It’s sometimes likened to singing the phrase, ‘beautiful trees.’”

You’d think after all these years of birdwatching, I would know all the songs of warblers and be able to distinguish between warblers and non-warblers. There are many types of warblers, however, and I know a lot of the songs, but not all of them. Plus, this song was very warbler-like, as I mentioned. Also — my final excuse, I promise — it’s been 11 months since we’ve heard warblers singing and my birding-by-ear is rusty. It’s only average to begin with, so this guy definitely fooled me.

Not that I’m complaining that it was a brown creeper. I find them extraordinarily interesting birds, despite their small size and rather non-descript appearance. I like how they work up the trunk of a tree and then fly down to the base of a nearby tree to start again.

I’m still waiting on that first warbler, but I’m confident they will arrive soon. As usual, the sightings will start as a trickle — pine warbler here, palm warbler there — and then become a fantastically overwhelming phenomenon of tiny, colorful birds in the trees.

Get your ears ready.

Note: Since this column was originally written, I’ve seen palm and pine warblers. Rejoice!

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A few more warblers from this spring

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Here are a few shots of warblers I got this spring but haven’t posted yet. So here they are, just kind of thrown at you in no particular order and without much description …

Oh, and there’s a few warbler shots at the end of the post that I took this year and had already posted. You can never have enough warbler photos.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow Warbler perches on a branch in Greenwich, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow Warbler perches on a branch in Greenwich, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Palm Warbler perches on a branch near a pool of water in Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Palm Warbler perches on a branch near a pool of water in Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Selleck's Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Selleck’s Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Hooded Warbler in Danbury, Ct., spring 2016.

Hooded Warbler in Danbury, Ct., spring 2016.

Palm Warblers passing through

Photo by Chris Bosak A Palm Warbler perches among pussy willows at Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Palm Warbler perches among pussy willows at Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Palm Warblers are one of the earlier warblers to show up during the spring migration. You’ll know the Palm Warbler by its rusty cap and brown and yellow plumage. Palm Warblers also pump their tails, somewhat distinctive among warblers. I found this guy the other day in Selleck’s Woods in Darien. We’re heading full steam into the spring warbler season!

Here are some more shots of the Palm Warbler.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Palm Warbler perches among pussy willows at Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Palm Warbler perches among pussy willows at Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Palm Warbler perches among pussy willows at Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Palm Warbler perches among pussy willows at Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Palm Warbler perches on a branch near a pool of water in Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Palm Warbler perches on a branch near a pool of water in Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Merganser Lake: Warblers at the feeder

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler visits a feeder in New England in fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Pine Warbler visits a feeder in New England in fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler visits a feeder in New England, fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Pine Warbler visits a feeder in New England, fall 2015.

Never at any of my former homes where I’ve maintained birdfeeders had I seen a warbler at the feeder. A few weeks at Merganser Lake and today alone I had three.

Continue reading

A few late warbler photos: redstart and yellowthroat

Photo by Chris Bosak An American Redstart sings from a perch in Selleck's and Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn., May 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American Redstart sings from a perch in Selleck’s and Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn., May 2015.

Here are a few photos of some late migrating warblers I took Monday at Selleck’s and Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn. The warbler migration still has some strong days ahead, but don’t wait too long if you haven’t been out there looking for them yet. The warbler migration in New England winds down as the month of May winds down. Let me know what you’re seeing out there.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Yellowthroat perches on a broken stalk at Selleck's and Dunlap Woods in May 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Yellowthroat perches on a broken stalk at Selleck’s and Dunlap Woods in May 2015.

Warbler season has arrived in New England

Photo by Chris Bosak Palm Warbler

Photo by Chris Bosak
Palm Warbler

The title of this post is a bit misleading because warbler season actually arrived a few weeks ago. But there early warblers are still around and the next wave hasn’t arrived in force yet, so the topic is still timely.

Anyway, warblers (small and usually colorful Neotropical migrants) move through New England starting in late March/early April. The migration continues through early June. Many warbler species nest in New England, particularly Continue reading

Female Common Yellowthroat

Here’s a female Common Yellowthroat, one of the many confusing fall warblers to watch out for as you hit your favorite birdwatching spots this fall.

Photo by Chris Bosak Common Yellowthroat, first year, southern New England, Sept. 2013

Photo by Chris Bosak
Common Yellowthroat, first year, southern New England, Sept. 2013