Saturday, December 10, 2011

Warbler Guy, which warblers are on the U.S. WatchList?

Frederick (in Naples, FL), here's the four species on the list (compiled via the National Audubon Society, 2007):

Bachman’s Warbler (Endangered)
Golden-winged Warbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler (Endangered)
Kirtland’s Warbler (Endangered)

The U.S. WatchList reflects a comprehensive analysis of all the bird species in the United States, and identifies those in greatest need of immediate conserva- tion attention. The list builds on data from Partners in Flight (PIF), the latest research from the bird conservation community, and data from the Christmas Bird Count and Breeding Bird Survey.

Identifying and spotlighting the species at greatest risk is the first step in building the public policies, funding support, conservation initiatives, and public commitment needed to save them. The U.S. WatchList lays the groundwork for an “industry stan- dard” to guide conservation priorities among conservation organizations and government agencies.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fab Five Warbler Quiz #6

Can you name each of the five warblers? (A helpful hint: not all the warblers in these photos are males.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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:

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:

Monday, October 3, 2011

And Then There Was One: Connecticut Warbler Now Widow-Widower

Given the American Ornithological Union's (AOU) recent scientific name changes for wood-warblers (noted in the 9/28/11 article, immediately below),
all of the Oporornis genus members are now gone.

Except one.

The Connecticut Warbler remains as the lone Oporornis representative. (Kentucky, Mourning, MacGilliviray's were subsumed into the Geothylpsis genus that formerly in N. America merely consisted of the Common Yellowthroat.)

During the nesting season, the often stealth, ground-dwelling Connecticut Warbler is frequently confidently ID'ed by savvy birders who know it walks (along with only four other N. American wood-warbler species). The large eye ring is another prominent feature. Notice how the throat color pattern differs from the look-alike Nashville Warbler, which features yellow throughout the throat (in contrast to the gray throat/chin sheen in Connecticut).

Most Connecticut individuals have already left the USA as obligate neotropical migrators that will spend the non-breeding season amid the Amazon River area in South America.

Next spring, this species is one of the last wood-warblers to return to breeding rounds and, thus, is considered
a late migrant in comparison to other earlier arriving USA wood-warbler species.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What are the latest bird name changes or warbler name changes? When did the American Ornithological Union (AOU) approve these names?

Yes, Aaron (in Akron, OH), the 52nd AOU Checklist Supplement approved and published in 2011 lists the following wood-warbler changes to species names (INCLUDING the scientific name change for the wood-warbler shown in the nearby photo, the common name of which is the answer for the one-click quiz on the left side. As a hint, we're still playing taps on our bugle, given the Wilsonia genus is now R.I.P., subsumed into the genus occupied by the Red-faced Warbler (Cardellina genus).):

• Mourning Warbler Geothlypis philadelphia
formerly Oporornis philadelphia
• MacGillivray’s Warbler Geothlypis tolmiei
formerly Oporornis tolmiei
• Kentucky Warbler Geothlypis formosa
formerly Oporornis formosus [note change in spelling of species name]
• Hooded Warbler Setophaga citrina
formerly Wilsonia citrina
• Kirtland’s Warbler Setophaga kirtlandii
formerly Dendroica kirtlandii
• Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina
formerly Dendroica tigrina
• Cerulean Warbler Setophaga cerulea
formerly Dendroica cerulea
• Northern Parula Setophaga americana
formerly Parula americana
• Tropical Parula Setophaga pitiayumi
formerly Parula pitiayumi
• Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia
formerly Dendroica magnolia
• Bay-breasted Warbler Setophaga castanea
formerly Dendroica castanea
• Blackburnian Warbler Setophaga fusca
formerly Dendroica fusca
• Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia
formerly Dendroica petechia
• Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica
formerly Dendroica pensylvanica
• Blackpoll Warbler Setophaga striata
formerly Dendroica striata
• Black-throated Blue Warbler Setophaga caerulescens
formerly Dendroica caerulescens
• Palm Warbler Setophaga palmarum
formerly Dendroica palmarum
• Pine Warbler Setophaga pinus
formerly Dendroica pinus
• Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata
formerly Dendroica coronata
• Yellow-throated Warbler Setophaga dominica
formerly Dendroica dominica
• Prairie Warbler Setophaga discolor
formerly Dendroica discolor
• Grace’s Warbler Setophaga graciae
formerly Dendroica graciae
• Black-throated Gray Warbler Setophaga nigrescens
formerly Dendroica nigrescens
• Townsend’s Warbler Setophaga townsendi
formerly Dendroica townsendi
• Hermit Warbler Setophaga occidentalis
formerly Dendroica occidentalis
• Golden-cheeked Warbler Setophaga chrysoparia
formerly Dendroica chrysoparia
• Black-throated Green Warbler Setophaga virens
formerly Dendroica virens
• Fan-tailed Warbler Basileuterus lachrymosus
formerly Euthlypis lachrymosa [note change in spelling of species name]
• Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis
formerly Wilsonia canadensis
• Wilson’s Warbler Cardellina pusilla
formerly Wilsonia pusilla

In addition, see the following web site written by David Sibley to learn more about wood-warbler name changes and the rationale for the new taxonomy that the American Ornithological Union recently approved:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Warbler Guy: Where's warbler resources online? Warbler books? Warbler field guides? Warbler information?

Jeremy (in Austin, TX):
Feel free to check out:

Warbler resources are also listed in the bibliography within the Warblers field guide (shown here as a graphic) by Jon Dunn and Kimball Garrett (1997, Houghton Mifflin).

Of course, tooting my own riff: I present warbler-centric slide shows when invited by groups. More information about these shows is at my web site:

Enjoy the warblers, Daniel

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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 excellent 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.

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.

Connecticut Warbler is currently present (on 9/12 and 9/13/11) in the Monterey Pine groves within Point Reyes National Seashore near Chimney Rock.

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

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Warbler Guy, where is bird radar migration information? Bird migration radar maps? Radar information related to birds?

Joey (in Hamilton, Ontario): There's a great bird radar migration web site at:

Here, you'll find how the Clemson Radar Ornithology Laboratory and its latest work related to:

-Calibrating WSR-88D displays for quantifying bird migration,
-Developing migration maps for different regions of the United States,
-Examining changing migration patterns with comparisons of current and historic radar datasets,
-Developing national migration models from forecast weather variables,
-Forecasting bird migration in the northeastern United States (BIRDCAST),
-Identifying and delimiting important migration stopover areas by using WSR-88D and classified multispectral satellite data in a GIS,
-Mapping roosting areas of Purple Martins throughout the South, and
-Conducting radar studies of bird migration through Panama.

Another related, albeit regional bird migration site for the autumn/post-breeding movement of songbird is:

Currently, excellent "difficult fall warbler" photos are shown at this blog site (in the 8/30/11 article and corresponding photos).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Warbler Guy, which vagrant is the "coolest" to see in the West this autumn?

Many vagrant, East Coast/Midwest nesting wood-warblers are eye catching prizes to see
during the post-breeding season, among them the Connecticut Warbler shown here.

The more rare to uncommon (vagrant) ones seen at places such as Point Reyes National Seashore and its Outer Point and Lighthouse
area include:
- Cerulean Warbler
- Black-throated Blue Warbler

Which so-called East Coast warblers are the most common vagrant species to see in this area?

- Palm
- American Redstart
- Tennessee
- Blackpoll

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wisconsin Kirtland's Warbler Nesting Update

In 2011, Kirtland’s Warbler was recorded in five counties in Wisconsin. Biologists documented a minimum 22 male and 11 female individuals in the state. Among 11 nesting attempts, four nests were successful, fledging an estimated nine to 17 young throughout the state.

At least 1,840 male Kirtland's Warbler now exist, a small total number. BUT an amazing comback for the federally-endangered wood-warbler that was once on the brink of extinction.

More details soon.

Please check back to learn more about this exciting annual nesting phenomenon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Warbler Guy, When does Kirtland’s Warbler migrate south? The Kirtland’s Warbler migration is early? Or does Kirtland’s Warbler migrate in fall?

Actually, Jeremy (in Detroit), many of the Michigan-based nesting Kirtland’s Warblers disperse and migrate by July (and no later than August). Look for them in mid-July where they nest in central Michigan counties and you’ll often be out of luck. In fact, their nesting period is a small window of time, typically from their mid-May arrival through the subsequent next six to eight weeks.

Then dispersal may happen before mandatory (or obligate) migration occurs. Think of dispersal as local to short-distance travel away from the nesting area. This interim period involves feeding and molting prior to the Kirtland’s long night-time migration to the Bahama Islands.

Followers of this blog may also know that Kirtland’s Warbler now nest annually in Wisconsin. (See articles from May and June, 2011, below.) Wisconsin Kirtland’s Warbler individuals also usually leave their nesting grounds in July. They, too, eventually migrate to the Bahamas, thereby joining Michigan nesters for the non-breeding season.

How many Kirtland’s Warblers exist? Probably no more than approximately 1,825 to 1,850 males, according to recent combined breeding bird studies that incorporate totals from Michigan and Wisconsin. One annual nesting spot in Ontario also occurs for this federally endangered wood-warbler.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What's this photo's ID (of a hybrid warbler recently present at Summer Lake in south-central Oregon)?

(photo (c) Jim Arneson via flickr)


My guess is as good as yours, though my initial thought is a form of Canada Warbler, given the trace of the necklace and eye ring typical of a classic male Canada Warbler.

Other field marks suggest Black-throated Blue, American Redstart and either Mourning or MacGillivray's.

Someone suggested the cross/intergrade appearance is most closely alligned with Junkin's Warbler, meaning it shows
field marks associated with Mourning and Kentucky.

Your thoughts?

Warbler Guy, what's this newborn West Coast warbler's ID?

....and the BIG hint for the nearby photo is its name begin with "Black-......"
(Remember, it's a West Coast wood-warbler species)

You can enter your answer in the "comments" section below.

Or you can vote at the nearby quiz on the right column.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Warbler Guy, what are the new warbler name changes? Do only the scientific names change and the common names remain the same?

Excellent question, Noah. (Warbler "taxonomy tree" name chart is difficult to read here, but is easier to see at the
link noted below in the final sentence.)

The honest and best answer is for you to read David Sibley’s account (David Sibley's blog =

His summary of the warbler name changes is the best account I’ve read.

You can see it at:

Happy 4th of July...(As we celebrate, by the way, millions of wood-warbler newborns are flying for the
first time today in northern latitudes. Some (such as LA Waterthrush that nested in the mid-Atlantic) are already dispersed and migrating nearby their nesting grounds and/or south by this time and this month.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

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?

Yes, Earl (in Tacoma, WA): No ex-communication for the black sheep of the wood-warbler family….Per the upcoming AOU (American Ornithological Union) “check-list committee,” the Yellow-breasted Chat will remain classified as a wood-warbler in the family Parulidae. This information is courtesy of the ABA’s Paul Hess.

Mr. Hess also wrote in the ABA’s blog recently that “the annual check-list supplement to be published in July will merely point to recent mitochondrial DNA analyses indicating that the chat's genus (Icteria) represents an old (evolutionary) lineage of uncertain affinities, probably related to the Parulidae, Icteridae, or Emberizidae (families).

He concludes: “In retrospect, I suppose the status quo shouldn't be surprising.” (i.e., that the chat is NOT yet ejected from its family, given the more than two-inch size difference and larger bill size it possesses in comparison to the other 106 wood-warblers).

“After all, the (check-list) committee did not receive a formal proposal in the past year that explicitly recommended moving the chat out of the Parulidae.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yellow-rumped Warbler Split?: No

. . . American Ornithological Union (AOU) update:

It votes down (in 2011) splitting Yellow-Rumped Warbler into two, three or four species

(Audubon's Yellow-rumped subspecies appears in photo.)

As many of you already know, the Yellow-rumped Warbler currently occurs as four subspecies, according to many researchers: the “Myrtle” group (coronata), and the “Audubon’s” group (auduboni), “Black-fronted” (nigrifrons), and “Goldman’s” (goldmani)

The taxonomy of these Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies was under consideration for change by a committee in the American Ornithologist Union (AOU).

(NOTE  #1: In the N.A. Birds Online account for this species, the following additional subspecies is described in the "Myrtle group":  Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies: D. c. hooveri (McGregor, 1899). This subspecies breeds in central and s.-central Alaska, se. Alaska, Yukon Territory, Mackenzie, and nw. British Columbia; intergrades with auduboni known from Stikine River, AK (Gibson and Kessel 1997). Like nominate coronata, slightly larger, with longer wing (minimum wing length 73.5 mm in females, 75.5 mm in first-year males, and 78.0 mm in adult males); more streaked below (Alternate-plumaged males) or paler brown (females). Characters broadly clinal where range meets that of nominate coronata; for this reason, hooveri not recognized by Hubbard (1970). More recently, hooverimaintained as valid (Godfrey 1986Gibson and Kessel 1997, R. Dickerman and P. Unitt pers. comment.

NOTE #2: The International Ornithogical Council (IOC) splits the subspecies and recognizes Audubon's and Myrtle as two species)

Now the vote is in from the AOU (from 2011).

No hanging chads here.

The vote was 7–4 against any divisions of the Yellow-rumped complex. The committee members suggested the need for further genetic analysis and determination of the extent of interbreeding in the subspecies’ contact zones where the “Myrtle” group (coronata), and the “Audubon’s” group (auduboni) mix in western Canada. The status of two other subspecies — “Black-fronted” (nigrifrons), and “Goldman’s” (goldmani) remain unchanged.

Black-fronted is a resident in Mexico, and Goldman’s occurs only in southernmost Mexico and Guatemala. Neither of these two subspecies has been observed in the American Birding Association geographical area.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Five & Counting: Wisconsin Kirtland's Warbler Nests For Fifth Consecutive Year in the State

Wisconsin Kirtland's Warbler Update *

(* = 2011 Kirtland's Warbler Nesting Success in Wisconsin; photo courtesy of Joel Trick)

Go to the following web site if you'd like to find out more about the 2011 Kirtland's Warbler nesting success for the current breeding season:

Given the amazing comeback of this federally endangered species, it's safe to suggest (with tongue firmly planted in tongue of cheek) that the Kirtland's wins the Comeback Bird of the Decade for its rebound to more than 1,800 males among the nesters occurring in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario (where in the latter place one location appears to annually host a breeding population).

For Wisconsin, the above the fold headline is already exclaimed above:
It's the FIFTH year in a row that Kirtland's has nested in the Bucky Badger state.

That's an unprecedented development for the species, which, as you may know, was thought until its discovery as a nester in Wisconsin in 2007 to ONLY
annually breed in Michigan.

There it was previously considered to be an endemic, with the entire population migrating to the Bahamas for the "winter."


Plenty of thanks should be extended to volunteers who monitor the federally endangered Kirtland's Warbler.

It's their efforts that continue to daily monitor the Kirtland's in Wisconsin as you read this item.....with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Joel Trick leading the crew.
Kudos to Joel Trick for helping an endangered species widen its territory as new habitat was found by Mr. & Mrs. Kirtland's arriving from the Bahamas each May (ostensbily, Jack Pine groves with an assist from Pinus cousin rubra, Red Pine, where the species is also found in WI)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Warbler Guy, which bird apps are the best ones? Are apps for birds worth their price? Is iBird Pro app better than Peterson Birds of N. America?

Good question, Harrison (in Tacoma).

I like and use a few.

My faves include (in order of preference):

1. Peterson Birds of North America, ($29.99)
This one has premium features that make it easy to navigate, plus you can enter your own
sightings to create lists that provide you an ongoing journal of your birding forays. This feature alone helps personalize
it and provides an interactivity that is missing in the other apps. Plus, you can "talk" with your birding friends to compare and contrast how your day's list of bird sightings is different from theirs.

2. iBird Pro ($29.99),
When it's quick access you need to hear a bird sing, then this is the app you should draw from your holster.
Its simple, easy design makes it a pleasure to use, with the premium edition (this one) more pricey ($29.95)
than many bird apps, yet worth the price. Photos of a bird, its range map, information, vocalizations and more
present for more than 600 species.

3. Sibley Guide to birds of North America ($29.95),
Featuring more than 6,600 bird images and 2,300 song files. My favorite feature is the visual representation of each succeeding age class among multiple gull drawings featured in the Laridae family area.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Warbler Guy: Do you agree that "HeadsUp Warblers" is a “Thumbs-Up” new app?

Yes, given I read review of it in the May, 2011 Birding Magazine (, page 64, “HeadsUp Warblers: An App by the Makers of birdJam."

In response, I bought it for a mere $7.95 at the
iTunes store that is reached via

Verdict: Nice job, birdJam folks.

Plenty of reasons to buy it, whether you're a beginner or advanced warbler-watcher.

Full disclosure: I have no economic connection with birdJam, but I do have this one self-admitted popular
wood-warbler blog site.

Populating it with info. about wood-warblers is the mission.

A similar spike in warbler fans pledging allegiance to "HeadsUp" won't be too hard for birdJam, based on its latest-greatest.


What are my readers' thoughts on the quality of HeadsUp Warblers? Feel free to post a comment, below, so
that we'll know where you stand on this new title.

Enjoy the wood-warblers.....(If you're reading this at night in a far northern USA latittude, then millions of ww's are currently passing through your area.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Warbler Guy, does the spring Blackpoll Warbler migration distance equal its long distance trek in the fall?

Yes, Amy (in Baton Rouge), for some populations, Blackpoll’s north and southward migration routes are likely the longest of all wood-warbler family members. The well-noted 2,150 autumn migration distance some New England Blackpoll partake in the autumn as trans-ocean migrants is a breathtaking marvel. Seventy-two to 90 continuous hours of migration over the ocean by a half-ounce bird seems an impossible feat. But imagine the current spring-time migrants (see graphic, courtesy of the and the map created by eNature, which is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts). Some travel 100-150 miles per night, with some doing so for weeks and eventually reaching Alaska after beginning their path in n. South America. Equally awe-inspiring, correct?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Warbler Quiz Answers: Latest Ones On Right Side Of This Page

You're a warbler quiz wiz?

You be the judge, as here's the answers to the most recent warbler quizzes (that appear on the right column as you scroll down from one to the next).

- Quiz Question:
(Myrtle) Yellow-rumped Warbler are one of the initial wood-warblers to return at northern latitudes in the USA because:

ANSWER: all of the above

- Quiz Question:

Unlike the majority of USA warblers that are trans-gulf migrants, the following species shuns over-water flight and, instead, uses C. Am. & Mexico to reach USA breeding grounds:

ANSWER: Nashville Warbler

- Quiz Question:

Which wood-warbler is documented to periodically eat fish?

ANSWER: Louisiana Waterthrush

- Quiz Question:

By the first week of March, which returning wood-warbler is the second or third most abundant wood-warbler species in the USA?


Orange-crowned Warbler, as the majority of West Coast neotropical migrants typically return to breeding grounds by early to mid-March (with the initial pulse often occurring in late February, depending on latitude).

Friday, April 29, 2011

Did you see the warbler chapter in the newly updated book by Kenn Kaufman, A Field Guide to Advanced Birding?

Yes, Amy (in Orlando): Kenn Kaufman’s update (from his original and now classic original A Field Guide to Advanced Birding) hosts an excellent chapter devoted to wood-warblers titled “Learning to Identify Warblers”

This insightful chapter is divided into subthemes such as “How To Look At Warblers,” “Learning The Groups of Warblers,” “What To Look For In Identifying Warblers,” and “Understanding What You Hear: Warbler Voices.”

Especially well done is Kaufmann’s explanation of warbler songs that he notes consists of two major song types in many warbler species.

He also expertly delineates the difficult autumn plumage ID challenge of the “Blackpoll Trio” consisting of Blackpoll Warbler, Bay-Breasted Warbler, and Pine Warbler.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

HEY Warbler Guy: When's "Peak" Warbler Watching in Florida During Spring? Warblers in Florida Are Common Now?

Indeed, Michael in Mobile, AL:

Note the current Prime Time Parade of warblers in Florida needs a new publicity director?

Or maybe the following excerpt from a post by Mr. John Thornton at Birding On The Net will get people's warbler watching passion to boil over with intrigue?:

Subject: Leu and Mead Gardens (4/20/11)
From: John Thomton
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 19:20:29 -0500

Hey everyone,

It's peak migration now, so I thought if I'm a birder worth my salt, I better
be out there if I had the chance! I did make myself go running this morning
before birding, because I knew I wouldn't want to in the heat of the day AFTER
birding. Consequently I arrived at Leu at about 9:45 AM and then at Mead around
1:00 PM (left about 2:30). It wasn't crazy today, but never boring. There was
so much breeding bird activity, I was always entertained even if it wasn't a
non-stop migrant show. I did hear the Yellow-Breasted Chat at Mead briefly and
I saw him flush, but I never got a good look. Here's the warbler species list:

Northern ParulaCape May Warbler (1 male,
Leu)Black-Throated Blue Warbler (2, 1 male and 1 female, Leu)Blackpoll Warbler
(1 female, Leu)Black-and-White Warbler (3, Leu; 2, Mead)American Redstart (1
female, Leu; 2 males, Mead)Ovenbird (1, Leu)Common Yellowthroat (1, Leu; 1,
Mead)Yellow-Breasted Chat (mostly heard only, not good looks like at Orlando
Wetlands a few weeks ago.

It's still been a thrush-less spring migration for me, so far. Also I was a
little surprised I couldn't come up with a Turkey Vulture for the day!

Leu Gardens is located near the intersection of US 17/92 (Mills Ave.) and
Virginia Ave. in northern Downtown Orlando. There is an entrance fee for
non-members (but again, if you are a member of your local botanical gardens or
arboretum, you may get reciprocal free entry). Mead Garden is located near the
intersection of US-17/92 (Orlando Ave.) and Orange Ave. in Winter Park. There
is no entrance fee.

Good birding,
John ThomtonOrlando, Orange Co.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Warbler Guy: Is it true that proposed changes by the AOU may drastically change the classification of wood-warblers?

Yes, that's the "flash" news scroll across my Warbler Network TV cable station, too....though NO "flash" scroll new for folks reading this blurb and ALREADY updated from the American Birding Association's (ABA) BIRDING
MAGAZINE “News And Notes”section
(March, 2011, page 25-26) relating to:

The switch of 21 species in largest USA-based wood-warbler genus — Dendroica — to the current American Redstart genus, Steophaga.
In the new grouping (or clade, the technical term),
all of these 21 species join
N. Parula, Tropical Parula,
Am. Redstart, and Hooded Warbler.

Obviously, bye-bye to Dendroica and hello to Setophaga on the leader board for wood-warblers,
IF this new classification scheme proposed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s
Irby J. Lovette and his 11 colleagues is approved.

Worse (and get out the hanky), Yellow-breasted Chat will no longer be considered a wood-warbler, IF the proposed changes happen.

Stay tuned.

One last, brief update…..Instead of 115 New World wood-warblers
{per Dunn & Garrett’s theory in Warblers, their 1997 field guide
(in need of updating, by the way)},
Lovette, et al propose 107 species as New World wood-warbler members.
These form 14 genera, they suggest.

(NOTE: One Dendroica genus member, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, has four subspecies associated with it. For the latest report about this name division, see the article at this blog dated 3/7/11 "CORRECT Yellow-Rumped Warbler Species Name Update....")

WARBLER GUY: Was that you I saw in the Minny-apple Tribune?

Yes, Amy: I'm now highlighted beyond my photos on post office walls, as, it's true:

The Minneapolis Tribune and its venerable outdoor/naturalist columnist Jim Williams
evidently think people like wood-warblers.

Who woulda thunk? -- and, indeed, you can see me featured in all true modesty at:

Good warbler watching, everyone.....Daniel, The Warbler Guy:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Warbler Quiz #6: Test Your Warbler Migration, Warbler Behavior, and Warbler Identification (Warbler ID) Skills (Answers at bottom of this article.)

a. True or False: Female wood-warblers never sing?

b. Fill in the blank: Beyond insects, warblers primarily eat two other general kinds of food: seeds & XXX (Please type your answer here).

c. True or False: All North American (New World) warblers migrate?

d. Choose one answer from the two options in the following question: In addition to approximately 52 species of warblers breeding in the United States north of Mexico, there’s a (smaller) (larger) number of species that breed in the tropics?

e. True or False: Some warblers species travel more than 100 miles per night during migration?


a. At least two female New World wood-warbler species are believed to sing:
Yellow and American Redstart.

b. Fruit

c. False. Common Yellowthroat {a common breeder/nester in every USA state (except HI) and Canadian province) does not migrate from SOME of the places where it breeds in southern portions of its breeding range} is one example of a non-migrating wood-warbler species.

d. Larger (107 New World wood-warblers exist, so a greater/larger number occur as nesters in the tropics than the number breeding in the United States north of Mexico.)

e. True. Depending on many factors, including weather and wind, some neotropical songbird migrants (including warblers) may travel as much as 100-150 miles on a single night’s migration.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sweet Tweet By Me: Utilizing Warblers' Undertail Covert Patterns For ID

Here's my latest tweet via Twitter relating to the above title/subject:

Spring Fever Cure: Helpful, Sometimes Diagnostic Wood-Warbler Feature = Undertail Patterns/Undertail Coverts: see pgs. 104-106 in “Warblers” (Dunn & Garrett, 1997).

(CLICK ON THE nearby illustration of the bird to see a closer view of its "undertail covert region." More specific, undertail marks on the bottom (ventral) side of the tail feathers (rectrices) are a diagnostic field mark in some species of New World wood-warblers (e.g., Magnolia Warbler, shown here, with abrupt demarcation/border of white-black)


PLEASE note you can follow me on Twitter at:
(but who has the time or the interest? I'd rather watch birds than tweets, correct!? So I'm off to bird and find the latest returning neotropical migrants to our Marin Co. area.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Latest Quiz Answers (right side of page and scrolling down)

....are the following (and corresponding to the second most recent quiz on the right side of this article and scrolling down to older quizzes):

By the first week of March, which returning wood-warbler is the second or third most abundant wood-warbler species in the USA?

Answer: Orange-crowned Warbler. Why? Given the first week of March is too early for the bulk of returning Yellow Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush to breeding sites, and given Yellow-breasted Chat is typically only common in localized areas (and rare to uncommon throughout much of its formerly larger breeding range), Orange-crowned’s begin appearing in portions of its breeding range by late February/early March. Note these returning breeding Orange-crowned are true migrants beyond the small population of this species that appear to overwinter during the non-breeding season. (Note #2: One Orange-crowned subspecies is a resident in the central CA coast, so it’s not intended to be included in this quiz question dynamic.)

“Second or third most abundant wood-warbler species in the USA” as the quiz question accounts for the more abundant numbers of Yellow-rumped Warbler and Common Yellowthroat in the USA during the initial portion of March, if only the USA is considered.


Which subspecies' breeding range is larger?: Audubon's Yellow-rumped or Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler?

Answer: Myrtle. See any range map for this species (e.g., "Warblers," Jon Dunn/Kimball Garrett, Houghton Mifflin, 1997). Note the vast area
throughout most of Canada and ALL of Alaska where Myrtle breeds.


Can you identify the correct order (top to bottom) of wood-warblers in the five photos on the left from the 11/10/10 posting?

Answer: Black-Th. Gray, Canada, Palm, Orange-crowned, Cape May.


In how many states does Kirtland's Warbler regularly nest?

Answer: Michigan and Wisconsin, with the Badger state now hosting breeding Kirtland’s during the last four consecutive breeding seasons. Previously, Michigan was thought to be the only state hosting annually occurring breeding populations for this species.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Warbler Guy, which books show warbler feathers and reveal warbler molt strategies?

Great question, Harold C. (Fargo, ND).

Finding stray birds' feathers is often both a pleasant and vexing discovery. It's pleasant because finding a feather is a nice treasure to stumble upon on the trail. But then the question often beckons upon examining your find: To which species does this feather belong? Let the identification bidding begin: Do I hear W. Scrub Jay? Stellars Jay? Over here in this corner: W. Bluebird? many choices for blue-appearing feathers alone.

What's one to do?

The second citation, below, is one remedy.

Another helpful guide to identifying birds when finding feathers or, in general, expanding your understanding of bird biology/birds' life cycle is the initial reference book, below.

Here's their citations (as they've helped me often recently as I continue reading and utilizing them regularly for my work):

1. Peterson Reference Guide to Molt in North American Birds. 2010. Steve N.G. Howell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. New York, NY 10003 (

2. Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species. 2010. S. David Scott & Casey McFarland. Stackpole Books. Mechanicsburg, PA 17005 (

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Warbler Guy, which warbler DVD is excellent to watch so that I can identify warblers (and use as warbler identification media)?

Thanks to Eric Salzman, the answer is in a recent “Winging It” newsletter (June, 2010) where Eric highlights two EXCELLENT warbler DVDs:

“Watching Warblers” (Judy Feith & Michael Male, Blue Earth Films,, $35) and “Watching Warblers West” (same people/source as the line above, $35).

Both titles are awe-inspiring. Synthesizing thousands of hours in the field with their cameras, Feith and Male are consummate filmakers that add an exquisite dash of splendor with images of warblers feeding, nesting, bathing, etc. Jaw-dropping warbler scenes are all "G rated" for my adult students to enjoy, especially on a rainy day when my workshop/class is forced to remain sequestered indoors in lieu of sleuthing for warblers outdoors.

A cool element on both DVDs: each contains “extra” features, including running clips of single males belting out their songs in mini-episodes called “Fun With Songs.”

Summary: Thumbs up. Way up.

Enjoy spring’s beginnings. Recrudescence ho….Warblers, start your flying engines.

Monday, March 7, 2011

CORRECT Yellow-Rumped Warbler Species Name Update....

....and given recent changes, please note some of this blog's past Yellow-rumped Warbler
articles are either now wrong and/or out of date.

So, please note the most current, accurate Yellow-rumped Warbler nomenclature
appears at the 1/26/11 article, below.

Past articles about this species from 10/10/09, 10/5/09, and 7/8/09 are no longer necessarily
correct, in terms of the subspecies names associated with the Yellow-rumped Warbler species.

Please read the 1/26/11 article for more precise direction you can take to learn more.

Now back to your wood-warbler questions, with many to answer after I go birding.....Cheers, Daniel

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Warbler Guy, do female warblers sing? If so, which female warblers have songs? Or do only male warblers sing?

Nice question, Bernice (in Mondovi, CA).

At least nine species of temperate zone wood-warblers (representing six genera: Vermivora, Dendroica, Setophaga, Seiurus, Geothlypis, and Wilsonia) have been confirmed as singers based on field studies (Evans Ogden, Neudorf, Pitcher, and Strutchbury, 2003).

Given merely a minority of females sing among the world’s 4,000+ songbird species, what’s the payoff for this vocal behavior? One theory is that female singers may be adopting male-like behavior, especially among older females (Nolan, 1978). Another theory suggests female song results from female-female conflicts occurring in dense populations (Hobson and Sealy, 1990) or may be a function in intra-pair contact (Gilbert and Carroll, 1999).

Among the singing wood-warblers in the U.S., Dunn & Garrett state in Warblers (1997) that Yellow Warbler (ABOVE photo, a female, courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service) song has been documented in at least one population in Manitoba, Canada (Dunn & Garrett, 1997).

Likewise, these two authors suggest in the same field guide that American Redstart females sing sporadically to rarely (if at all).

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Can you identify the wood-warblers in each of the following five photos?....
(by clicking on the "Post A Comment" and listing them in order from the topmost photo through to the bottommost one) Note that you can click "anonymous" to "Post A Comment" and, if you wish, leave your name and city at the bottom of your warbler identity list.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Warbler Guy, which wood-warbler sang first in the movie The Social Network's sound track background? Why was it probably the wrong species?

Good question, Dr. Watson? -- err, I mean Erica (in Palo Alto, CA).

Indeed, long antennae make fine decisions when identifying birds by ear.

So how could a Wilson's Warbler (ABOVE photo) sing near Harvard's campus in the crew racing scene that appears
soon after The Social Network begins?

This vexing question is valid because Wilson's only passes through the Harvard University area (Massachusetts) as a spring and fall transient.

BUT the scene in the movie depicts a summer atmosphere, post migration, when Wilson's would already be farther north on breeding grounds.

Ho-hum. Another movie that cares little that birders compose a portion of the audience.

We are listening, Hollywood. You have it wrong. Our antennae are long.

Film on the floor. Cut up.

Take 2.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Warbler Guy, what are the latest AOU species split proposals? Are Yellow-Rumped Warbler subspecies going to change in number?

(UPDATE: The article below is outdated, given recent name classification changes. Thus, see the 3/7/11 article here at this blog for an update in relation to the Yellow-rumped Warbler split into various subspecies.)


There's an excellent article to read All About It, Robert Z., if you go to:


That's a huge Web site address to copy and paste, I know.....but it's worthwhile reading.

You'll learn the potential options for classifying Yellow-Rumped Warbler that the American Ornithological Union (AOU) committee is debating.

Meanwhile, where I live in the Bay Area (CA), it's common to see two subspecies in many habitats during the non-breeding season:

1. Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata coronata)
2. Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata auduboni)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Warbler Guy, which wood-warblers remain in the USA after the 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 occur in the USA during the non-breeding season:
- Common Yellowthroat
- Black-throated Green
- 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