Saturday, August 3, 2019

Are Pt. Reyes & the Farallon Islands the best W. Coast spots to see E. Coast vagrant warblers? Is it rare to see CT Warbler in CA?

Excellent questions, Jason. Answers: 1. The book “Rare Birds of California” is an fine resource for your questions. 

CT Warbler is a rare vagrant at the spots you mention, though it’s also been recorded as a vagrant from s. British Columbia south to n. Baja CA. Vagrants have also been seen in C. America and the western Caribbean. The initial confirmed record of CT in California was a spring male collectedon June 16, 1958 on southeast Farallon Island, a location that claims first state records of five other wood-warbler species.

(Above: Connecticut Warbler, courtesy of Wikipedia)

True fact (that is amazing): More than half of CA’s CT sightings originate from one rock on southeast Farallon Island.

Vagrant (“accidental”) warbler species are NEVER common on the West Coast, but they are always annually seen. Point Reyes National Seashore is often a fine place to see them in September and October, especially within Monterey Cypress groves that occur sporadically within and near ranches on the way to the Outer Point/Lighthouse area within the park. Foggy/cloudy days are often the best conditions to see “layover” individuals. Some of the best areas to visit in pursuit of vagrant East Coast warblers here include the Drakes Beach, Chimney Rock, and Lighthouse areas.

To find this location, contact the park's rangers or email me:

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Warbler Guy, do wood-warblers start migrating in late summer? Fall warbler migration begins when? Warbler migration in autumn starts in August? What about warbler dispersal vs. warbler migration? What's the difference?

Joey (in Chicago):

Interesting questions that you pose.

First, migration is different than dispersal.

Dispersal is post-nesting behavior when birds remain in the area where they bred, but have not yet migrated. Foraging is the principal activity, say, in July or August for these birds. Molting may be included as a post-breeding phenomenon for some dispersing individuals.

Migrating is moving with purpose to non-breeding grounds away from where birds spent the breeding season. Hence, true northern hemisphere neotropical migrant bird species migrate after breeding to non-breeding grounds before again looping back north again the following spring.

Seeking even more details about this subject? Please read below at the * area.

(* = Dispersal begins earlier than migration. Fledgings leave the nest and begin their independent lives while foraging BEFORE eventually migrating. So newborns may linger in an area near where they were born. By mid- to late-August at upper Midwest latitudes, some begin to migrate south while other species -- such as American Redstart, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, among others — may have a protracted migration. These three species are among the latest to leave northern latitudes, with some Yellow-rumped and Palm remaining through November and December -- and, in recent years, some of both species persisting through Christmas Bird Count surveys in the upper Midwest (and even remaining throughout the winter in some cases). Pine Warbler may also persist late while sometimes feeding at seed feeders after an insect fauna is depleted with freezing temperatures.)

Now, let's discuss breeding vs. non-breeding ranges of wood-warbler species.

A nice resource to read about breeding vs. non-breeding ground ranges of wood-warblers is in Warblers (the field guide from 1998 by Jon Dunn and Kimball Garrett). Its information is dated in spots, but most of the text remains valid. As a more updated complement, I also refer to the fantastic The Warbler Guide (Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, Princeton University Press, 2013). This guide's range maps for migration and breeding/non-breeding ranges more accurate in some cases than Warblers, with more comprehensive photos for each species. You won't be sorry for purchasing both books.

Now, here's an illuminating example that incorporates the above information.

It's a past report from Ryan Brady, an ornithologist/bird researcher/scientist for the Wisconsin DNR. His late summer list of is below. See his list of 20 wood-warbler species that he noticed on 8/29/17 near Bayfield/Washburn, WI (near Lake Superior): (Then see more of my commentary, below.)

From: Ryan Brady <>
Subject: [wisb] 20 warbler sp. - Bayfield County
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2017 01:50:37 +0000

An excellent flight last night brought 20 species of warblers to the trails around my property this morning, including Golden-winged, Blackpolls, Bay-breasteds, Mournings, Palms, Pine, and more. Thrushes were on the move in the morning fog, yielding some Swainson's and my first Gray-cheekeds of the fall. Also had my first Lincoln's Sparrow and a nice push of 3 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers.

Full eBird checklist at

Ryan Brady
Washburn, Bayfield County, WI

I hope these answer your questions, Joey?

In closing:

It's time for the D & M Show, so to speak (Dispersal & Migration Show.....(!) ).

Enjoy the birding, everyone....

Regards, Daniel (hosts my "Birding Tours" that I have led as a Birding Guide since the 1980s

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Warbler Guy, where are warbler photos best found on the Web? Where may I compare and contrast warbler images online?

Jason (in Buffalo), I recommend the web site operated by Giff Beaton in Georgia.

Giff's "Warblers" site is found at:

(male Magnolia Warbler, below)

Recent systematic name changes in the warbler family are also present in the way Giff organizes his photos, so information is updated according to the latest American Ornithological Union (AOU) decisions.

His site also features links to bird-related sites; information and photos related to dragonflies and insects; and links to other nature topics (See:

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Warbler Guy, what's Bird Genie and which bird apps are also a good idea to buy?

Joe (in Seattle)...Good question, as I often get asked by birders this same question.

As you may know already, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently published Bird Genie, an app that uses sound recognition to suggest the ID of birds after you record them.

It works well from reports I've read, but it's limited in the number of individuals that can correctly be identified.

For beginning birder, I imagine it's "cool," a wondrous invention.

But for evolved birders, I doubt much value can be secured.


Because their ears are typically trained for "ID By Ear" beyond the level of Bird Genie, in my humble opinion.

That's not to suggest future iterations of Bird Genie may not be worth buying.

It's simply the current version is not "Thumbs Up" yet for me to recommend.

Just my two cents....or, perhaps more apt: Just my SAVED two cents.
(I think Bird Genie is $9.99 (?) )

As for other apps, I use iBird Pro and Sibley Birds. Both are wonderful.

Regards and happy birding....Daniel Edelstein, Birding Guide & Avian Biologist (& College

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Warbler Guy, I seek Hermit Warbler in CA. Where shall I go? How about Black-throated Gray Warbler? Where would you take us to find these West Coast warblers?

James (in Ohio):

Good questions, with several places worth sleuthing to find your elusive, yet common wood-warbler species.

Let's focus on Marin Co.* where I live and conduct regular birding tours (* = I live 20 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge).

First, Hermit Warbler typically nest in conifer trees such as Douglas Fir and Coastal Redwood.

Hence, these habitats are plentiful in Marin Co. (and n. CA), but the best spot I pursue for hearing AND seeing Hermit Warbler: Bolinas-Fairfax Road.

It begins in Fairfax (in central Marin Co.) and winds through beautiful, solitude-filled habitat toward the coast where it ends near Bolinas, CA.

Approximately 2 miles after the golf course on this road (as you ascend it from Fairfax), Douglas Fir habitat becomes thicker, thus attracting Hermit Warbler.

As for Black-throated Gray Warbler, I usually detect this common wood-warbler in dry forested habitat where major expanses of dense Madrone, Coast Live Oak, and CA Bay trees grow, along with other co-dominant species.

A good venue for this species: Cascade Canyon near Fairfax....or, again, Bolinas-Fairfax Road within the same Douglas Fir areas.

Feel free to let me know if you have other questions.

Always glad to help.

My birding tours to the aforementioned areas in 2019 to date yielded several views of these two wood-warbler species, I'm happy to report (and they are two of my FAVORITE wood-warbler species).

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Birding Guide,

Avian Biologist,

College Instructor (Merritt College)


Certified Wildlife Biologist Asc.
(hosts my resume)

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Warbler Guy, I seek a high-quality binocular, but at a good price. Thoughts?

Peter (in Des Moines):

Plenty of choices, of course.

But where to start.

First, I ALWAYS sample any binocular or spotting scope before purchasing it. That's common sense.

More challenging: WHERE to find a good optics resource? What's a birder to do?

One quick fix: I have bought optics from the following online and storefront source that
features diverse choices for binoculars, spotting scopes, and optic accessories:

Out of This World Optics

The owners (Marilyn Rose and James Blackstock) provide personal service.

(They are at: 800-228-8252.....and Mendocino is a sweet, coastal town in southern Mendocino County, ~120 north of San Francisco)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Warbler Guy, how shall I best find Kirtland's Warblers? May I take a Kirtland's Warbler tour? Tours to find Kirtland's Warblers cost?

Yes (Edith in E. Lansing), you can take a guided tour to find Kirtland's Warbler this spring and summer.


Here, you'll read details about how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Audubon Society will jointly conduct guided tours from May 15 through July 4, departing from the Ramada Inn in Grayling, Michigan. You'll need to visit the front desk upon your arrival for the meeting location. The tours will be offered on weekdays at 7:00 a.m. and on weekends and holidays at 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Tours are free of charge.