Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Warbler Guy, is it unusual to see wood-warblers at backyard seed feeders? Wood-warblers at feeders I can expect to see?

Jerry (in Michigan).....Great question, as in your area this time of year I'd expect potential seed feeder sightings from a lonely, uncommon Pine Warbler or Yellow-rumped Warbler.

In the West along coastal California, it's not common, but Townsend's Warbler could show up along with Yellow-rumped.

Yellow-rumped subspecies in the lower 48 states —both Myrtle and Audubon's — are able to digest waxy coatings on seeds (such as privet and wax myrtle berries), unlike most other wood-warbler species....and they also seem to have hearty digestive juices to process seeds (as does Pine).

Otherwise, I have to admit in my 40 years of birding, I've never seen any other species at seed feeders.....though nectar feeders sometimes coax Cape May Warbler, among others.

I'm out to lead a birding tour soon to Bodega Bay, so wishing you the best.....Feel free to see my "Birding Tours" area at my web site:

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Monday, January 1, 2018

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 and 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 comprises Marin Co. where I well
as other San Francisco Bay counties such as Sonoma and Napa Co.).

4. Email me at 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
(Please feel free to see the "Birding Tours" area for information about my outings.)

415-382-1827 (o)

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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Warbler Guy, where can I read about multiple warblers' nesting habits, warbler migration patterns, warbler songs, etc.?

Syd (in New York), you cannot go wrong by visiting:

This site features a comprehensive list of more than 720 North American species, with all of this area's Parulidae (warbler family) members present.

Yes, it costs money: $42 per year or $100 for three years.

Cannot recommend it enough. Thumbs (way) up (!)

Happy Holidays, Daniel

warblerwatch (features my "Birding Tours" area and birding information for n. CA)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Warbler Guy, is it common to see warblers during the winter? Are sightings of non-breeding season warblers typical in the East and Midwest?

Greg (in Baltimore), I could provide you details, yet definitely not better than the following fine article at Nemesis Bird that provides an explanation of "winter" warbler abundance for the East:

As for the West, say, in northern California where I live, the most typical warbler species to see (from most common to rarest in the order shown below) include:

- Yellow-rumped (both Myrtle and Audubon's subspecies occur in diverse habitats in great abundance, though Audubon's far outnumber the former);
- Common Yellowthroat (considered a resident throughout parts of n. CA, including the SF Bay Area) (male, immediately below and female below the male);

- Orange-crowned (although most depart annually be each autumn, a small number remain throughout the non-breeding season before they are again joined by returning migrants in February/March);
- Hermit (similar in abundance to the explanation noted for Orange-crowned, above);
- Palm (rare to absent during the non-breeding season, though often seen during the fall migration window....considered a vagrant sighting by many birders who observe this species in n. CA);
- Wilson's (even less common to detect during the non-breeding season than Orange-crowned and Hermit);
- Nashville (a few occur during the non-breeding season, but it's typically rare to absent)
- Black-throated Grey (rare to absent during the non-breeding season); and
- Yellow (although this species is common to see as a fall migrant throughout much of n. CA, it is usually rare to absent by November - March in this region).

Monday, November 27, 2017

Warbler Guy, which West Coast warbler vagrants are the most common ones to see? Do vagrant warblers also appear on the East Coast?

Good question, Hogie (in Portland).


On the West Coast, say, on the Outer Point of Point Reyes in N. CA, the most typical East Coast vagrants to see in the fall include Palm, Blackburnian and Blackpoll. Other species that often appear annually: Black-throated Blue, Black-and-white, Magnolia, and Chestnut-sided Warbler.

(Blackpoll Warbler, shown above.)

One reason relates to the orientation error displayed by migrating warblers. For many vagrants seen on the West Coast, the cause is due to first-year individual having an innate faulty brain, causing them to navigate south, then west — instead of south and, then, east toward Latin American expanses.
In traveling west by mistake, these newborn warblers continue as far as the land will take them — such as to the far western extreme of Point Reyes National Seashore. Unfortunately, these vagrants meet an unfortunate fate as they eventually continue moving west over the ocean.

In regard to West Coast vagrant warbler species, ongoing discussion is whether Blackpoll is truly a vagrant? -- given it's annually seen on the West Coast after the breeding season. It's possible these observed individuals nested in Alaska and, hence, migrated directly south after breeding.

In turn, the question then is whether these few sightings of Blackpoll should be termed vagrants, given many birders believe the term denotes disoriented individuals who have an in-born abnormality in their navigational abilities.

Consequently, the term vagrant remains an open question for birders wishing to debate the answer.

Perhaps the best solution is to simply use a different status identification as to whether a warbler sighting for one area deemed, for example, uncommon, unexpected and/or rare — and, thus, avoid the using the term "vagrant."

Meanwhile, consider rare sightings of warbler species on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

In these regions, it's not as common during the non-breeding season to have West Coast warbler species show up, but it does occur.

For example, in my home state of Wisconsin, it's a "big deal" for birders to see a Townsend's Warbler — which is one of the most common non-breeding season warbler species in the SF Bay Area (where I primarily live now).

A good site to check for vagrant warbler sightings throughout the USA:

A 2006 sighting of Townsend's at Sheridan Park in the Milwaukee area coaxed oodles of birders to view this vagrant. Go to the following ebird link:

to see evidence of this Townsend's surprise visit to Wisconsin.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Warbler Guy, what's a good web site to tell warblers from one another? Here's some warbler photos that perplex me for the ID of warblers.

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

As for apps: iBird Pro (wonderful!)....Sibley Birds (equally excellent, and especially for gull species because the age class for each "cycle" is visually expressed well).

The Warbler Guide app is OK and is complementary to the field guide with the same name....but its breadth and depth is not as advanced as iBird Pro and Sibley Birds. There are several other FINE bird apps, so I don't wish to suggest this communique is comprehensive.

Enjoy the wood-warblers and birding fun, hosts my "Birding Tours" information.....and feature my current "Raptors of San Francisco Bay" college class that continues through 11/12/17.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Warbler Guy, I wonder what the "alula" feathers are on a bird? Do warblers have alula feathers? What function do alula feathers do?

Sherry (in Helena, MT):

Great question (but NOT always one I receive....).

Here's a photo (BELOw) of a bird — a Common Pigeon — that highlights its alula feathers and notes their function: (Wood-warbler family members ALSO possess alula feathers, but they are more challenging to see....and best seen via museum specimens and/or in the hand when banding birds at a mist net station.)

Three to five feathers in wrist of the wing that are used in slow flight or landing, much as slots on an airplane.

As for the source of this photo, I thank Vireo and R. Curtis....and feel free to see more bird terms and vocabulary at:

Enjoy the birds and don't forget to lean over and fall back tonight one hour: Daylight savings ends, I'm sorry to say....Imminently, there's one fewer hour of birding to do in the afternoon (!) 

Daniel, with 
(hosts my "Birding Tours" information for the northern and central CA area....including the SF Bay Area birding tours I regularly lead....including today, when I'll bring my "Raptors of the San Francisco Bay Area" Merritt College class to Hawk Hill in Sausalito (Golden Gate Raptor Observatory) ).

Rock Pigeon      Columba livia