Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Warbler Guy, which warbler do you think is the most common one to see during fall warbler migration on the West Coast? On the East Coast during migration of warblers, which one is common to see?

Interesting question, Josie (in Cincinnati).

Yes, my answer that follows suggests one likely warbler species you'll see on both the Left & Right Coast, (but read farther down the page after the "XX" symbol to learn more qualified details):

1. On the West Coast in n. California where I live in the SF Bay Area, it's typical to see a heavy influx of transient Yellow Warbler individuals from mid-August through as late as mid-October.

An excellent spot to see them near where I live in Novato (Marin Co.) is the San Rafael-based Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds. (To find this birding venue, see:

2. As for the East Coast (and the Midwest), Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle subspecies) is an easy answer to your question because it's the most common warbler in the fall to see AFTER the initial wave of earlier migrating warblers passes through much of the lower and upper Midwest and New England, mid-Atlantic, and southeast USA.

Moreover, by September in most of these aforementioned places, this amazingly prolific warbler species is ubiquitous.

Able to feed within every portion of a tree's profile (and, thus, in technical terms, able to exploit many micro-habitats via "resource partitioning), this warbler in the fall may challenge the patience of querying birders as every new viewing opportunity results in one Yellow-rumped Warbler after the next.

Frustrated birders want to see more than Yellow-rumps, of course, so as one more Yellow-rump after the next fills their bincocular views, you might hear them vent: "Another Yellow-rump? Another Butter Butt! " (its well known nickname).

But fear not, my warbler friends. Consider my fond memories of seeing a forest dominated by Yellow-rumps when I lived and birded in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Often, the influx of Yellow-rumps was accompanied by the first snap of cold on an autumn morning, with a backdrop of   colorful autumn trees framing the appearance of other birds joining the Yellow-rumps.

Related, and in addition, note some populations of the neotropical-migrating Yellow-rumped Warbler persist into November (and beyond) throughout the Midwest, including the Upper Midwest and New England. During some years, this species may remain and survive the entire winter in the cold northern latitude of, say, southern Wisconsin...and, for this reason, it is occasionally reported by birders during Christmas Bird Counts in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

In recent years, this species has even been known to "over winter" throughout the non-breeding season in the the Midwest and East, especially if its favorite winter food sources are available (e.g., wax myrtle berries in the East, for example).


As for other common species you might see on the West Coast in fall in lieu of Yellow Warbler,
in my area of n. CA 20 miles north of San Francisco, Orange-crowned Warbler is often seen as dispersers and/or migrants.

Vagrant warbler sightings of so-called East Coast warbler species primarily happens from August through October on the Outer Point lighthouse area within Point Reyes National Seashore, a one-hour drive from my house and a spot, by the way, that I often bring birders who employ me as a Marin County birding guide.

East Coast warblers that are common in fall besides Yellow-rumped Warbler?

Palm Warbler is the next most common one and often associates with Yellow-rumps, especially in from mid- to late-fall.

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

(where my "Birding Tours" area provides details related to my all-day guided birding tours)


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Warbler Guy, how many warblers nest where you live in the Marin County, California area?

Thanks, Jeb....I am always flattered (and LUCKY) to see a vagrant Blue-winged Warbler as a rare, cameo-appearing vagrant on the West Coast (and rare to absent many years, though a visit to the Outer Point, lighthouse area within Point Reyes National Park would be your best bet to see this common Midwestern and Eastern USA nester (see figure, below).

As for northern California nesting warblers in the county where I live in Novato, Marin County (25 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge), seven species of warblers typically nest annually
in my area — a venue that is, incidentally, the area from where the majority of my guided bird tours begin (Feel free to see the "Birding Tours" area of my web site: warblerwatch.com)

Which seven nesting warblers usually occur annually during most breeding seasons in Marin County?:

1) Common Yellowthroat (a subspecies of which is a year-round resident);
2) Orange-crowned (with the bulk of this species a neotropical migrant that arrives back as early as February, though the largest pulse arrives annually in March);
3) Yellow-rumped (auduboni subspecies, with higher altitudes in the county hosting nesters);
4) Black-throated Gray (typically restricted to drier open woodlands and forests;
5) Hermit Warbler (probably our county's second most rare nesting warbler next to MacGillivray's Warbler that is rare to sporadic as a #6 nester; and, finally, and last BUT not least:
7) Wilson's Warbler (that is rare to absent during the non-breeding season, but common in moist, bottomlands and riparian areas by April throughout the county, with a early return in March within the Bay Area and Marin County this past 2015 breeding season.

For more information, feel free to consult two field guides that are the best, most comprehensive, current warbler field guides:
- Warblers, Jon Dunn & Kimball Garrett, Houghton Mifflin Press, 1997
- The Warbler Guide, Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, Princeton Univ. Press, 2013

Regards, and happy birding...Daniel



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Warbler Guy, given you appear to be a birding guide in N. CA, where can I find reports of bird sightings there?

Sally (in Joliet, IL)....

Glad to Share & Tell the answer:

1. Go to:


2. Here, read current and recent bird sighting reports from various spots in n. California.

3. Or click on the pulldown menu to find a specific region that has a listserv
list of bird sightings whose geographic area corresponds to where you plan on birding (e.g., the listserv titled "NorthBayBirds" at sialia.com comprises Marin Co. where I live....as well
as other San Francisco Bay counties such as Sonoma and Napa Co.).

4. Email me at danieledelstein@att.net if you have more questions about finding various birding spots reported by folks who may not include directions to help you find birding venues.

Regards, Daniel

415-382-1827 (o)

P.S.: You may be interested in my latest warbler quiz on the far right column here?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Warbler Guy, I'm always traveling to new birding spots, so what are my resource options for finding where to find warblers where I go?

Glad to help, Janice (in Phoenix).

Here's some resource options that may assist you:

1. The web is your friend, as you go:

- to birdingonthe.net and click on Rare Bird Alerts....Then click on the region to where you are going.  Scan. Read. Instant knowledge.

- to audubon.org....then click on the state to where you are going, and, next, local chapters. Choose the one in the area where you plan to visit, reading the area, say, that lists local birding sites.

Email addresses of folks in an Audubon chapter are often posted in this area or under the Board of Directors or other names where the "field trip coordinator" often is the most knowledgeable to float an email with your questions.

2. For example, using the first option above, I found a Masschusetts listserv posting from June, 2013 that could pertain to the current date and this month, July, when warblers first begin to disperse/migrate.

To wit: Check out the following photo. Do you think this group of YELLOW WARBLERS is already dispersing/migrating? I'd suggest they could be moving locally, but are not in full nightly flying mode yet. They might even be a family group, with three of the five first-year/hatch-year individuals.

(Source: http://www.whatbird.com/forum/index.php?/topic/102416-all-tree-swallows-yellow-warblers-starting-migration/)

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Monday, June 22, 2015

Warbler Guy, now that it's summer, which warblers am I most likely to see after nesting? Do they migrate in summer?

Good questions, Valerie (in New York City).

Depending on your location in North America, you may begin seeing warblers dispersing and migrating as early as late June, though July and August are the more common months to start seeing them away from their nesting areas.

For example, in the Midwest and East, Yellow Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, and Louisiana Waterthrush are well known to be early migrants. (I remember a few years ago reading of a bander who already captured on a returning Louisiana Waterthrush (below photo) on July 4th to its wintering grounds in the Bahamas.)

In the West, Orange-crowned Warbler often leave nesting grounds by early June. Some populations in coast California areas disperse upslope to the Sierra Nevada mountain range (and its foothill areas) to feed amid temporary "staging ground" areas before truly migrating in August and September.

Where I live in the San Francisco Bay area, Orange-crowned Warblers are still present amid their nesting grounds some cases, but the vast majority have already left their nesting areas — including some that have left for the Sierra.

Dawdling Orange-crowned individuals remain here, however, such as the males I heard singing today. It's possible these late-stayers may be re-nesting and, as a result, are still hosting recently hatched newborns.

Other nesting warbler species in my area — Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Gray, Yellow-rumped, Wilson's, and Hermit — have also completed their nesting cycle, or will surely do so in most cases by no later than July.

That's why I'm now often forced to drive long distances to find these warblers in the mountains where songbird nesting remains vibrant.

Happy Birding to all, Daniel

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Warbler Guy, can you help me ID these warblers? Which app helps ID birds when I have photos?

Jessie, try looking at:


As for your warbler photos, below, here's my opinion as to their identities (from top to bottom):

Orange-crowned, Nashville, Orange-crowned, Yellow-breasted Chat

Friday, May 29, 2015

Warbler Guy, has Kirtland's Warbler been seen this year in Wisconsin? Is it nesting again in 2015 within Wisconsin?

Yes, Dennis, Kirtland's Warbler has been reported on five ebird.org checklists noted at:


Whether it's nesting in Wisconsin is still an open question, given I do not yet see the WI DNR or USFWS web sites indicating nesting presence in 2015.

Nonetheless, nesting success again in 2015 within Wisconsin is likely, given the last seven years have yielded nesting success in one or more state locations.

Check back here again soon and I'll have a more extensive update.

Of course, the annual nesting presence of Kirtland's in Michigan has repeated, as 10 or more of this state's counties have hosted this federally endangered species since monitoring efforts began.

One ongoing, perhaps annual nest in Ontario may also again host a nesting pair again in 2015, but I'll have to confirm this phenomenon. Again, please feel free to check back as more information becomes available that I am able to share here.

One related update offers a fascinating discovery:
A banded Kirtland's Warbler from Wisconsin has been recaptured in the Bahamas where this species spends the non-breeding season. See:


(Above, Kirtland's Warbler nestling receives color-bands at 5-6 days old, Adams County, Wisconsin.
Photo by Joel Trick.)