Friday, September 7, 2018

Warbler Guy, for vagrant warbler sightings, what's a good resource to check when I travel? Are West Coast vagrant warblers easy to find?

Gus (in Chicago), I'm looking forward to our upcoming birding tour for which I'm guiding you....and here's some thoughts on your questions:

1. I use ebird ( as a primary source for checking updated, documented sightings.

So, for example, yesterday was a first record for a Golden-winged Warbler sighting in Sonoma Co., CA (in the SF Bay area where I live):

As you scroll down the page at the above link, you can see past sightings have occurred in the nearby Point Reyes National Seashore (to the south of of Sonoma Co.), BUT not yet in Sonoma Co.

I imagine the new record will soon be added to ebird.

2. County by county lists of sightings for CA appear via John Sterling's home page at:

See the link to a file here and, then, go to the CA county where you will be birding.

I hope this helps!

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Monday, August 20, 2018

Warbler Guy, which migrating warbler arrives first on the East Coast? Which warbler arrival shall I expect on the West Coast? Warbler migration has begun?

Lori, those are great questions.

The brief answer is look for the following warblers to initially appear as true returning migrants on the East Coast from the Mid-Atlantic north:

- Louisiana Waterthrush
- Palm Warbler
- Common Yellowthroat
- Yellow-rumped Warbler

For the West Coast, it's even more simplified:

- Orange-crowned Warbler (photo shown here) is often the most common returning nesting species, typically arriving by late February to early March, if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live.

March 6 is the mean annual arrival date for this species on the coast in W. Marin Co. at the Palomarin (near Bolinas) bird banding station, based on 1967-1989 records. The earliest return date in this span is 2/27 and 3/16 was the latest.

Palm, Wilson's, and Yellow Warbler may also be early returnees on the West Coast, though it's challenging to definitively determine if sightings of these species are true migrants or "over-wintering" individuals.

Some Orange-crowned individuals in the Bay Area also may "over-winter," as Christmas Bird Count surveys in the San Francisco Bay Area often record this species and rare to periodic reports for this species persist throughout the winter during most years from Bay Area counties. In this case, if I hear an associated Orange-crowned song in February or March, then I usually deem the aria a returning migrant individual.

Happy birding, Daniel
danieledelstein at att dot net
warblerwatch dot com

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Warbler Guy, why does American Redstart occur in California more often than most other so-called "East Coast" warblers? Is American Redstart a vagrant on the West Coast?

Excellent question, Joey (in Santa Monica).

Fact is, American Redstart is not always a vagrant in California when detected during the spring and late summer/fall.

That's because its far western home range into Alaska places it in the pathway of where some individuals may migrate up and down the West Coast.

Equally important, a northern California breeding population in the farthest region of the state has occurred in the past.

As a result, it's plausible to suggest annual breeders in this area could be southward migrating individuals that California birders detect from August through November annually, for example, in the outer point of Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County or at Bodega Head in Sonoma County.

That written, it's ALSO possible some Midwestern and East Coast American Redstarts are seen in California. The species is abundant and locally common throughout much of its range, so, given the plethora of newborns each year, it's possible some become disoriented as vagrants spotted on the West Coast.

In summary, it's challenging to decisively determine the origin of an American Redstart observed from central to southern California. An observer would need to employ bird banding data and recapture a previously banded individual to find out its pathway of dispersion and/or migration.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Warbler Guy, is there a smart phone app devoted to wood-warblers? Which app features warblers?

Yes, Avrial (in Miami):

I recommend the new warbler app from Princeton University Press.

The one I like is complementary to The Warbler Guide.

I copied and pasted from the Press's web site the following information:

The Warbler Guide App is the perfect companion to Princeton’s revolutionary and widely acclaimed book The Warbler Guide, by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. Taking full advantage of the Apple iOS® platform, the app allows you to identify birds by view or song, quickly and intuitively.

Exciting new 3D graphics enable you to view a bird from the exact angle you see it in the field. And the whole range of warbler songs is easily played, compared, and filtered. Whether for study or field use, this innovative app delivers the full power of The Warbler Guide in your pocket, built from the ground up for the Apple iOS® platform, and complete with unique new app-only features.

Breakthrough features from The Warbler Guide book that are included in the app:
  • Rapid and confident two-step ID process using visual finders and comparison species
  • The first complete treatment of warbler songs, using a new objective vocabulary
  • An intuitive visual finder that includes side, 45 degree, and undertail views
  • Master Pages with detailed ID points
  • Complete guide to determining the age and sex of warblers with photos of all ages and sexes
  • Annotated sonograms showing song structure and key ID points
  • Complete songs, chip calls, and flight calls for all species
  • Comparison species for making confident visual and audio IDs
  • Many additional photos to show behavior and reinforce key ID points
  • Highlighted diagnostic ID points
  • Color Impression Icons for narrowing down ID of warblers from the briefest glimpses
  • Behavior and habitat icons

Unique new app-only features:
  • 3D models of birds in all plumages, rotatable and pinch-zoomable to match field experience of a bird
  • Intuitive, visual, and interactive finders with filters for possible species based on audio and visual criteria chosen by the user
  • Playback of all songs and vocalizations with sonograms makes study of vocalizations easy
  • iPhone® and iPad® versions let you take these useful tools into the field
  • Selectable finder sortings grouped by color, alphabetical order, song type, and taxonomic order
  • Interactive song finder using objective vocabulary for fast ID of unknown songs
  • Simultaneous visual and song finders makes identifying an unknown warbler even easier
  • Half-speed song playback allows for easier study of song structure
  • Comparison species with selectable side, 45 degree, and undertail views
  • Features 75 3D images
  • Covers 48 species and 75 plumages
  • Includes 277 vocalizations, 156 songs, 73 contact calls, and 48 flight calls

Technical Specifications:
  • Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPad 2/iPhone 5 and above.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Warbler Guy, which warbler species remain in the USA during the non-breeding season?

Bridget, the answer to your question won’t take you long to read.

Among the breeding 52 North American wood-warblers, only a minority occasionally to annually occur in the USA during the non-breeding season:
- Common Yellowthroat (see photo, below)
- Black-throated Green (Florida and Texas, as the most typical places)
- Northern Parula
- Pine
- Orange-crowned (south Channel Islands, CA and along the California coast)
- Yellow-throated (southeast USA)
- Tropical Parula (in the extreme southern portion of Texas)
- Prairie (a subspecies in south Florida)
- Painted Redstart (southeast Arizona)

South of the USA, here’s some more North American wood-warblers that have non-migratory populations breeding as far north as Mexico:
- Belding’s Yellowthroat (Baja only)
- Bahama Yellowthroat
- Gray-crowned Yellowthroat
- Slate-Throated Redstart
- Crescent-Chested
- Fan-tailed Warbler
- Golden-crowned Warbler
- Rufous-capped Warbler

A few other species are reported rarely to irregularly after the breeding season in the USA, and, thus, could potentially be individuals that remain in the USA during a portion or throughout their brief lives, including:

- Tennessee
- American Redstart
- Nashville

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Warbler Guy, what's your next class at Merritt College? Answer: "Fundamentals Of Ornithology & Birding In Central CA" (Sept. 18 - Oct. 20, 2018 Class)

Animated, Dynamic Slide Show • Info. Handouts
• Resources/Bibliographies • Field trips

(Carpooling? Yes. Free binoculars: Yes. High-powered spotting scope?: Yes)

. . . . emphasis on fundamental of ornithology: anatomy, behavior, song ecology, migration, nesting, life cycle information, and field identification

(* = Note: 4 field trips to prime, ideal birding spots in the SF Bay Area)
Register: (or call 510-208-7225): BIOL 80C (code 44361)
1.5 units.

            Slide show lecture: Sept. 18 (7-9:50 pm)

            4 field trips: Sept. 30 and Oct. 6, 13, and 20, 2018 (9 am - 2:50 pm)
Email questions to this Avian Biologist & Certified Wildlife Biologist Asc. 

Learn about Daniel’s 25+ years of birding experience and leading bird tours since the 1990s at:

His birding presentations/tours have occurred in 20+ states.

See his blogs: &

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Warbler Guy: Is the Yellow-Breasted Chat still a wood-warbler? Or did it get “kicked out” of its family? Why is the chat a wood-warbler?

Thanks for the question, Mary.

After many years of debate, the AOS (American Ornithological Society) in 2017 moved the yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens) to the Icteriidae. It is the only member of this family.

As you may know, this seven-inch songbird was once a member of the New World warbler family (Parulidae)

The reorganization does not end the controversy among researchers. Several still believe blood analysis suggests the chat should remain in the Parulidae.