Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Warbler Guy, which wood-warbler species typically arrive initially in spring on the East Coast? First-arriving warblers are which ones? Returning migrant warblers are easy to find?

Lori, those are great questions.

Brief and oversimplified answer:

Look for the following wood-warbler species to initially appear as true returning migrants on the East Coast from the Mid-Atlantic north:

- Louisiana Waterthrush
- Palm Warbler (some "over-winter" in small numbers, though not every year, but Christmas Bird Count surveys may yield this species)
- Common Yellowthroat (some "over-winter" in small numbers, especially in the mid-Atlantic region, though not every year, but Christmas Bird Count surveys may yield this species....)
- Yellow-rumped Warbler (some "over-winter" in small to large numbers....It's locally present and, even, common in the mid-Atlantic in this region with many Christmas Bird Count surveys yielding this species)

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 in 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


Anonymous said...

nice info

Anonymous said...

Yes, agree....I saw OCWA in mid-Feb this year in Monterey

Daniel Edelstein, M.S. said...

And, yes, also: I saw Wilson's early this year, too....by end of Feb in Carmel area

Daniel Edelstein, M.S. said...

Beyond Carmel, I also noticed Wilson's in Marin Co. (north of SF by one county) where I live by late Feb this year....and I know that it is annual to sometimes annual on the Pt. Reyes Xmas Bird Count....Rich Stallcup, bless his legacy, and his group often found one WIWA during their CBC endeavor.

Regards, Daniel

Bird Tour Guide and leading birding trips since the 1980s


Consulting Biologist for CEQA/NEPA projects