Thursday, December 15, 2016

Warbler Guy, given I live in the SF Bay Area, which warbler species are the most common to see during the non-breeding season (i.e., overwintering species)?

Good question, Sheehi (in Fairfield).

In general, in correct habitat, below I list the order (from most common to rarest) for abundance of wood-warbler species in the SF Bay Area during the non-breeding season. I suggest only the initial two on the following list — Yellow-rumped and Common Yellowthroat — are common to detect throughout the SF Bay Area during the non-breeding season:

(Orange-crowned Warbler, above, a common SF Bay breeding species, but rare to absent during the non-breeding season)

1. Yellow-rumped Warbler

2. Common Yellowthroat

3. Depending on which habitat you visit, the next most common species to detect could be:

Orange-crowned Warbler (strongest contender for the 3rd spot; see above photo)
Hermit Warbler (rare to absent during the non-breeding season)
Wilson's Warbler (rare to absent during the non-breeding season)
Palm Warbler (seen annually during the non-breeding months, but never common in the SF Bay
Area during the "winter" months.....most common seen in during autumn migration along the coast, especially within Point Reyes National Seashore)
Black-throated Gray Warbler (rare, but annually seen during the winter, and, if so, during the West Marin Christmas Bird Count, for example)
Nashville Warbler (rare to absent during the non-breeding season; typically a transient in the SF Bay Area; does not nest here)

Regards, Daniel
(hosts information about my 25+ years of Wildlife Biology services, in addition to my bird tours via the "Bird Tours" tab)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Warbler Guy, Where may I most likely see warblers in northern California near you (or where might I see warblers in Marin County)?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Warbler Guy, Where may I most likely see warblers this time of year in northern California near you (or where might I see warblers in Marin County)?

Thanks for asking, Jeremy (in Mill Valley, CA).

Here's a great web site to note seven fine Marin County birdwatching spots (i.e., the best birding places in Marin County, and, arguably, some of the finest birding locales in northern California):

(By the way, my Web site,, features a button -- "2016 Nature Watch Calendar" -- where you can read several brief accounts that discuss wood-warblers in northern California and, in particular, wood-warblers in Marin County.)

Currently, among the seven on the list, I suggest going to Rock Springs (on Mt. Tamalpais) and
Muddy Hollow (within Point Reyes National Seashore, a paramount, iconic place on the W. Coast to see diverse species of birds in multiple families/orders).

In these two spots where forests occur, the most likely wood-warblers to see currently include TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (non-breeding season resident only; see closest above photo) and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (typically the AUDUBON's subspecies).

At Rock Springs and Muddy Hollow, watch for the much less common (in this order) ORANGE-CROWNED and HERMIT WARBLER, too -- though they are both rare to absent throughout most of Marin Co. during January (Populations of these two neotropical migrants return in late winter and spring, thereby nesting in suitable habitats throughout the County.) Even more rare at this time of year is to see the NASHVILLE WARBLER (above photo, below the headline), though it periodically makes a cameo appearance and, indeed, the local annual Christmas Bird Count surveyors sometimes extract one from the landscape.

The Stinson Beach area is another "hot spot" for periodic sightings of uncommon overwintering/non-breeding season warblers, with NASHVILLE WARBLER and HERMIT WARBLER seen there on 12/5/16 by Peter Pyle. Check out under his North Bay Birds listserv post, if you wish directions to the grove of trees where he saw these two species (as I know it's often a prime spot to watch for warblers in December/January annually).

Regards, Daniel
(features my "Birding Tours" information for the 8-hour trips I often lead for birders)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Answer to 11/3/16 quiz, below: Orange-crowned Warbler

....and thanks to those who responded....Several were correct!: Orange-Crowned Warbler (subspecies celata) (Oreothylpis celata celata) (Photo credit: Arlene Ripley)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quick Quiz: Which wood-warbler is this one (in the photos)?

My friend Jim McGinity in Florida is an excellent birder and bander who temporarily captured this beauty recently......along with these fine photos.

Any guesses as to which species? -- per adding a "comment" below. I'll post the answer in a wee here.

Regards and happy birding, Daniel

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Warbler Guy, do you have any advice for IDing "confusing fall warblers?"

People often ask me to share the best ways to identify migrating warblers — especially in the East and Midwest where post-breeding plumages can sometimes create identification challenges.

My brief answer is that there’s no replacement for doing your homework in the field. Getting out early and often with your binoculars is the best way to see lots of warblers. The more challenging identification episodes you encounter, the faster you become precise with your warbler field skills.

One identification resource I recently found may interest you. It’s an online “chart” that’s found at:

The author, Marcel Gahbauer, does a terrific job of separating 30 species of warblers by various key feather field marks: a) presence of wingbars or not; and b) facial, throat, and undertail characteristics.

Enjoy your autumn birding!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Warbler Guy: What “strange” common names were previously designated for some of our wood-warblers?

What “strange” common names were previously designated for some of our wood-warblers?

(The above Black-Throated Blue female's vastly different appearance in comparison to a definitive male of the species is suggested to be the reason John James Audubon named it a different common name, the Pine Swamp Warbler.)

Common Yellowthroat was once often referred to as Maryland Yellowthroat. John James Audubon mistakenly named two Yellow Warblers as Children’s Warbler. In another instance, Audubon misnamed two juvenile Yellow Warblers as Rathbone’s Warbler.

Audubon was not alone in his naming confusion. Beyond Audubon, naturalist/painter Alexander Wilson also made his share of identification mistakes. Both of these luminaries – as well as other contemporary birding experts in bygone eras – are to be excused because during their tenures little was known about the relationship between plumage changes and corresponding definitive field characteristics.

Audubon’s failed nomenclature decisions periodically continued to surface as he gathered specimens for his paintings. Originally calling a bird specimen he collected in Pennsylvania the Pine Swamp Warbler, he later realized his subject was truly a Black-Throated Blue Warbler.

Later, Audubon was misled by Wilson’s naming procedure into thinking a Blackburnian Warbler was worthy of being designated a new species, the Hemlock Warbler. Audubon, in fact, was never able to correct this misnaming mistake. Another misplay hearkens to May 1812, when Audubon caught a wood-warbler specimen that he named Vigor’s Warbler in honor of Nicholas Vigor, an English naturalist. More correctly, Audubon’s find was an immature Pine Warbler. His confusion was probably the result of the collected individual being in vastly different habitat than its usual pine/needle tree haunts.

Even the Canada Warbler was originally misnamed by Audubon. When he first drew the bird as it perched on the fruiting branch of a magnolia, Audubon suggested it be named the Cypress Swamp Flycatcher. Later he changed his mind, renaming the bird as Bonaparte’s Flycatcher only to again change its designation to Bonaparte’s Flycatching Warbler.

Eventually, it was confirmed that Audubon’s specimen was instead a young female Canada Warbler. Eight years later, Audubon painted the same species and mistakenly called it a Canada Flycatcher.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Warbler Guy, is the American Redstart a vagrant when seen in California during late summer/fall? American Redstarts in Point Reyes National Seashore are vagrant sightings?

Great question, Monica.

My opinion is "no" — given the Birds of North America account for this species states small populations of this species sometimes breed in far n. CA counties.....Thus, in migration, these populations may move south along the coast where, as you suggested, they are sometimes seen at this time of year at the Outer Point within Point Reyes National Seashore.

(Adult, male American Redstart, above)

That written, it's possible some of the American Redstarts seen from central to southern CA during late summer through fall arrive from as far north as southeastern Alaska and the northwest territories (as the northern most extension of its breeding range).

Observing one of these individuals would not qualify as a vagrant, I believe.

However, disoriented dispersing/migrating American Redstart from the East and Midwest would definitely be best termed vagrants, if seen on the West Coast.

Given the above information, a banded individual or so would need to be assessed to determine the precise answer to your question.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Warbler Guy, do you think the Myrtle and Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies will be designated new species?

Mari (in Phoenix), it's an interesting question that continues to be debated as researchers
examine the DNA of the two subspecies, among other elements.

Currently, the defining organization for this question — the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) — does not have a new proposal to entertain a split that would result in species status for Myrtle and Audubon's. In fact, in recent years, an AOU committee turned down a proposal to create species status for more than Myrtle and Audubon's, but also, perhaps, Black-fronted and Goldman's subspecies within the Yellow-rumped complex.

For more current information, the following link is worth reading:

I'll provide more updates on this question as I learn of new information.

Regards to all, Daniel

Birding Guide

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Warbler Guy, where can I find Rare Bird Alert posts throughout the USA? Are warblers on Rare Bird Alert posts?

Candi (in Phoenix):

I recommend you peruse

Here, by region, you can choose which Rare Bird Alert to read.

For example, where I live in the West, it's exciting to note that a non-warbler -- a Bar-tailed
Godwit -- has recently captivated sleuthing birders visiting Bolinas Lagoon (near Stinson Beach in
West Marin County, CA).

For this sighting, I'm consulting and, then, investigating the North Bay Birds listserv.

My photo of this rare shorebird to n. CA is shown at my Facebook post at:

Initial migrating warblers are noted on several CA listservs today, including migrating Yellow Warbler spotted for the first time in Marin County, CA where I live. A Townsend's Warbler
also seen today in Marin County may possibly stay for the winter/non-breeding season, but it's more likely to continue migrating south (Our area's longer-lingering and overwintering Townsend's Warbler more typically arrive by September and October, with the initial ones seen now more likely transients for Marin County.)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Warbler Guy, any name changes by the American Ornithologists' Union this summer? Did the AOU bird name changes happen to any wood-warblers?

Channee, the short answer: "No" changes among wood-warbler species (either scientific or common names) via the recent July publication of the AOU's latest taxonomic proposal changes.

That written, a couple of interesting votes occurred by the AOU committee in relation to other songbird taxonomic change proposals:

1. In a slight upset, the presumed lump of Hoary and Common Redpoll failed as a proposal. More study was deemed necessary to decide if these two species should instead be considered as one.

2. A proposal that passed:

The Western Scrub-jay is now separated into two species: California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay.

Read all about it, below, courtesy of Audubon Magazine (and the author Kenn Kaufman):

Western Scrub-Jay is now split into two species: the California Scrub-Jay(Aphelocoma californica) and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii). Birders have long recognized that these widespread western jays come in different flavors: a darker, more rich color in California, Oregon, and southwestern Washington, and a somewhat paler, grayer type in the interior West, from Nevada east to Texas. Many field guides already illustrate them separately as “coastal form” (or “Pacific form”) and “interior form.” They do hybridize where their ranges come together in western Nevada, but studies have shown that such interbreeding is very limited. So now they will be officially recognized as separate species.

Birders who have traveled widely in the West have probably seen both of these already, and will net an automatic “armchair lifer” from the decision. If you’ve already seen them, you can go ahead and count them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Warbler Guy, can you name a common wood-warbler that migrates early in summer throughout the USA?


If you said “Yellow Warbler,” then you’re correct.

Rather than merely identifying this species as among the earliest “fall migrants” within the wood-warbler family, it’s apt to state the Yellow Warbler is an early “summer migrant.”

Dispersal and/or migration begins by mid- to late July throughout the majority of its eastern USA breeding range.

Migration of Yellow Warbler on the West Coast is not as early, typically initiating in August and peaking later in the month and into early September.

In addition, note this species has protracted migration, as some tardy individuals have been noted in Pennsylvania as late as October 1st and into late October from sightings in South Carolina and Florida.

Earliest arriving transients from the north into Mexico have been detected by late July. Most individuals, however, arrive in non-breeding territory by August, with peak numbers returning in September and October.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Warbler Guy, how do I know if my California bird sightings are rare ones? Are species of special concern in California present in a book?

Sherry, feel free to see:

Here, you'll see the publication whose cover is shown below. 

It's an excellent resource to read analysis of the status of California's at-risk birds using the latest data to describe current populations, ranges, and threats. 

Species highlighted in this 450-page book include seabirds, raptors, shorebirds, waterfowl, and perching birds, all of which are represented on a Bird Species of Special Concern list.

This list also notes California habitats with high numbers of special concern bird species, including wetlands, scrublands, grasslands, and riparian forests.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Traveling soon to Wisconsin, Warbler where do I look up recent warbler sightings? Warbler sightings in Wisconsin are posted on ebird?

"Yes" to your question, Theo (in Chicago).

You would do well to see:

Then type in the warbler species you'd like to pursue in Wisconsin.

This link shows the latest survey results from WI Breeding Bird Atlas volunteers documenting
nesting bird species throughout the state.

For example, I recently visited WI to pursue Connecticut Warbler.

The ONLY documented sighting I noticed in n. WI is linked from a 5/24/15 observation at:

Let me know if I can further help.

Regards, Daniel

(My "Bird Tours" information is at my web site via the "Bird Tours" tab:

Monday, May 30, 2016

Warbler Guy, I'm traveling to Maine, so how do I find out about warbler sightings in Maine? Warbler sightings in New England?

There's a great web site operated by Steve Holzman (Thanks, Steve!) that I recommend, Betsy:

Here, you can see any state listserv with recent documentations of bird species, including wood-warbler species.

Paul Garrity operates the Maine listserv, which is at:

His "Media Shelf" link features excellent wood-warbler resources. See:


This post is brief because it's time to go prowling for owls addition enjoy BRIGHT
Mars, which is at a magnitude of -2, so four times as bright as a "0" designation.

Enjoy the spring everyone, Daniel (hosts my "birding tours" information for central California birding and San Francisco Bay area birding tours that I regularly addition to teaching birding classes at Merritt College in Oakland ( )

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Warbler Guy, tell me if migrating Kirtland's Warbler have returned to breeding grounds? Kirtland's Warbler migration in spring originates from where?

Jasper (in S. Carolina), given Kirtland's Warbler typically annually nests ONLY in Michigan and Wisconsin in the USA (and in one spot within Ontario, Canada), here's where I check this month to note when this federally endangered species has returned:


The contact you may wish to query:

Keith Kintigh, 989-619-2296

2. Wisconsin's web site (via its DNR) does not post updates of detected Kirtland's Warbler for the current nesting season, so the best way is to watch its birding listserv updates via the "Wis Birds List Serv" -- a term you should Google to subscribe.

Then you'll be able to see the sightings of birders who post.

3. As for Ontario, I'm not aware anyone or any agency provides information for this area's potential Kirtland Warbler nesters.

Meanwhile, have I heard about Kirtland's returning yet this May? -- based on the typical pattern of arriving around this date annually in Wisconsin (e.g., Adams County appears to sustain an annual nesting population of Kirtland's Warbler within Jack Pine stands.)

No...but I'm checking the Rare Bird Alerts, including #2, above.

I'll post here again this breeding season, if and when I hear about Kirtland's sightings in the above locations.

Happy Birding to all, Daniel (features my "Birding Tours" information based on my 25+ years of leading hikes and tours)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Warbler Guy, I'm traveling in search of warblers this spring: Where do I find warbler sightings online? Warbler observations are present at one web site? Rare Bird Alerts post warbler sightings?

Yes, Harold:

There's a one-stop shop for all your warbler watching needs at:

Look by region on the home page menu for the area to which you are traveling.

So, for example, at the above web link, pretend you're traveling to Michigan this spring.

Your aim is to find the Kirkland's Warbler that typically nests among 10 north-northcentral Michigan counties.

Look for this area on the web link and go through the dates to check potential recent sightings.

Easy, correct?

At Warbler Watch, we aim to please.

The birder customer is always correct.

Regards, Daniel ("Birding Tours" area provides details related to my Bird Guiding/Bird Tours
that I offer throughout northern and central California, including the San Francisco Bay Area)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Warbler Guy, are any new "splits" or "lumps" of species proposed for birds this year? Will the annual American Ornithologists' Union name changes happen soon?

Norm (in Manhattan):

GREAT question and the best answer for Warbler-Philes is an easy one: No wood-warbler family (Parulidae) changes proposed, BUT (drum roll for Corvid and Fringillid fans):

- "Woodhouse" Western Scrub-Jay subspecies could be elevated to species rank, per a current proposal; and

- Lump of Common and Hoary Redpoll is also in the proposal stage.

That's your "elevator" pitch summary, if you wish the simple answer.

There's more details for other taxa/proposals, below....and ALSO at the following link:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Warbler Guy, how about an update on new warbler names? Any names for warblers change recently?

That's a great question, Erica (in Reno).

No proposed wood-warbler names or lumping/splitting of the current taxonomy in the wood-warbler family (Parulidae) that I can detect.

See the below web site link # if you’re interested in current proposals the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) may approve/disapprove by July, 2016.

Regards to all, Daniel Edelstein (for free birding information as well as my "Birding Tours" overview at the home page)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

#7 WOOD-WARBLER Photo Quiz (Quiz Yourself, If You Please)

#7: WOOD-WARBLER Photo Quiz (Quiz Yourself, If You Please)

Can you identify the wood-warbler species in the five (5) photos, above?

(Hint: There only four total species among the five photos.)

Answers will be posted here in my next article that will appear no later than 1/5/10. Please check back, in addition to noting my "2016 Nature Watch Calendar" at:

Regards, Daniel
415-382-1827 (CA/PT)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Answer To Current Quiz In Right Column Here: BELOW (Drum Roll.....)

....Wilson's Warbler....More details related to this question follow:

Although a few Wilson's Warbler remain during the non-breeding season in the SF Bay Area/N. CA, the vast majority are neotropical migrants that vacate the area and typically begin returning AFTER Orange-crowned Warbler return as the area's INITIAL returning nesting wood-warbler species.

(Above, Wilson's Warbler)

The above note is an oversimplification of a more complex dynamic......given some Orange-crowned Warbler individuals ALSO remain during the non-breeding season.

Hence, in general, the order of returning wood-warbler species beginning in February annually:

1. Orange-crowned

2. Wilson's

3. Black-throated Gray

4. Yellow, Hermit, Yellow-breasted Chat, MacGillivray's (various order of appearance depending on the year.....though, usually, they are later than #1-#3, above).

Nashville also pass through, sometimes, but they do NOT typically nest along the coast.

What about Northern Parula you ask? Indeed, for at least three consecutive years, a documented nesting site was detected in W. Marin Co. (near SF).....but I would hesitate to suggest this species is annual in the Bay Area.

Please feel free to correct me if you have different information.

I'm always glad to be updated. Regards and happy spring birding, Daniel (hosts my "Birding Tours" information related to my birding tour services that include 7 trips in April and several more in May both in N. CA and in Wisconsin, given I'll be co-leading trips at the annual Wisconsin Society for Ornithology conference.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Warbler Guy, I saw your San Francisco birding tours note you have seen nesting warblers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Francisco Bay Area has warblers nesting here?

Horatio (in Sunnyvale, CA):

Yes, depending on your perch in the SF Bay Area, there's both resident, year-round wood-warbler species as well as neotropical migrants that return annually to nest here.

The following list, below, is a simplified, non-detailed overview of the nesters in Marin County without providing details:

(Note the * = nester as a spring/summer resident and # = a year-round nester that is resident year-round. In addition, it's important to realize that a few individuals of all wood-warblers in the Bay Area may persist throughout the non-breeding season (though the vast bulk of the * species vacate the Bay Area during the non-breeding season. + = non-breeding season resident only).

* and # Common Yellowthroat (with much of the area hosting two subspecies, including the CA Species of Special concern sinuosa subspecies)

* Yellow Warbler

* Orange-crowned Warbler (Note this species persists in small numbers throughout the "winter," but the large pulse of returning nesters begins in February and peaks in March.)

* Wilson's Warbler

* Yellow-rumped Warbler (ALSO note: LARGE numbers present during the non-breeding season at low elevations, but most of the nesters occur at higher altitudes in select Bay Area locations only.)

* Hermit Warbler

* Black-throated Gray Warbler

* Yellow-breasted Chat (extirpated from portions of its previous breeding range)

* MacGillivray's Warbler

Townsend's Warbler 

Regards to you Horatio and all warbler seekers of this special family....Daniel (hosts my bird guiding and birding tour information via the "Birding Tours" section)

415-382-1827, Novato, CA

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Warbler Guy, I saw a nectar-drinking warbler at my feeder? Which warblers drink nectar? Warblers act like hummingbirds?

"Yes," Stevie (in Orlando):

Although it sounds strange, a few warbler species visit hummingbird feeders, including
Orange-crowned, Nashville, Virginia, Yellow, Black-throated Green, Prothonotary, and Cape May.

(Above, Orange-crowned Warbler feeding at a hummingbird feeder)

The initial above three species tend to have longer bills that are adapted to successfully obtain
the sweet elixir (that provides them supplementary carbohydrates beyond the protein-rich insects they seek).

Cape May, by the way, even gobbles jelly birders serve to tanagers and orioles in their yards — so be on the watch for warblers at your bird feeders, folks.

Or simply grab your binoculars and enjoy a walk down your favorite trail.

Look for our fine-colored feathered friends that winging their way north, with the imminent return of several likely in the southeast, Mid-atlantic, and, yes, even the upper Midwest where a few anomalous Yellow-rumped Warblers are already present (as over-wintering individuals or early returning migrants by the end of March/early April).

Happy birding to you, Daniel {features several free birding information handouts (including some excellent articles by David Sibley) via my "Birding Links" area and information about my 25+ years of birding tours and bird guiding services (via my "Birding Tours" area)}

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Warbler Guy, you teach classes at Merritt College, I see (with a Google search)...correct?

Yes, Aundra, and thanks for the plug.

Here's a "copy and paste" from my Daniel's Merritt College Classes blog about my upcoming 2016 class:

Raptors Of The Bay Area: September 8 - early November, 2016 (1 lecture & 6 all-day field trips)


Raptors Of The Bay Area And Central CA (see p. 124 at the college’s catalog for BIO 80A; this class begins 9/8/16 as a slide show/lecture introduction, then six all-day Saturday field trips occur in Sept., Oct., and Nov., 2016; register at beginning in April or May, 2016).

(below, 2nd or 3rd year sub-adult Golden Eagle)

Details For This Two-Month Class (One slide show/lecture; six all-day field trips):

- Thursday, 9/8/16: 7 pm - 9:50 pm slide show features 19 SF Bay Area raptors we may see during our six all-day September, October, and November, 2016 field trips;

- Five all-day Saturday field trips: 9/10, 9/24, 10/1, 10/8, 10/22, and 11/5/16
(e.g., Hawk Hill in Sausalito, Scaggs Island (off Highway 37), Altamont area (Golden Eagle breeding "epicenter"/activity center), etc.)

Focus Of Class/Purpose: 

We'll explore: a) the ecology/life cycle of raptors; b) migration; c) identification tips for the 19 potential species that either nest or migrate through the SF Bay Area annually.

About The Instructor:

A Merritt College ornithology instructor since 2003 — and a leader of birding outings since 1984 — Daniel (M.S., Natural Resources) is a freelance Certified Wildlife Biologist Associate. He regularly conducts bird surveys for common and rare species and possesses five survey permits. His popular website highlights northern California birds (see "Birding Links" area) at (His eight-year-old wood-warbler blog hosts articles, quizzes, and photos at
Questions? Please let me know at