Saturday, May 18, 2019

Warbler Guy, I seek a high-quality binocular, but at a good price. Thoughts?


Peter (in Des Moines):

Plenty of choices, of course.

But where to start.



First, I ALWAYS sample any binocular or spotting scope before purchasing it. That's common sense.

More challenging: WHERE to find a good optics resource? What's a birder to do?

One quick fix: I have bought optics from the following online and storefront source that
features diverse choices for binoculars, spotting scopes, and optic accessories:

Out of This World Optics
(OutofThisWorldOptics.com)

The owners (Marilyn Rose and James Blackstock) provide personal service.

(They are at: 800-228-8252.....and Mendocino is a sweet, coastal town in southern Mendocino County, ~120 north of San Francisco)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Warbler Guy, how shall I best find Kirtland's Warblers? May I take a Kirtland's Warbler tour? Tours to find Kirtland's Warblers cost?

Yes (Edith in E. Lansing), you can take a guided tour to find Kirtland's Warbler this spring and summer.

See: https://www.michiganaudubon.org/kirtlands-warbler-tours/


Here, you'll read details about how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Audubon Society will jointly conduct guided tours from May 15 through July 4, departing from the Ramada Inn in Grayling, Michigan. You'll need to visit the front desk upon your arrival for the meeting location. The tours will be offered on weekdays at 7:00 a.m. and on weekends and holidays at 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Tours are free of charge.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Warbler Guy, which is the most common warbler to see in my suburban wooded backyard near Madison, WI after the peak of migration is over? In the Santa Cruz area where we have a winter home?

The answers for my peripatetic birder friend, Robert, (in Madison), are short and long.

Let’s stay with the brief ones so you can get back to birding outdoors (where I’d rather be now, truthfully (!) )

In Dane Co. where Madison lies, and depending on your yard’s habitat and its nearby vegetational makeup, you can often see Common Yellowthroat (in moist thickets and/or wetland areas where emergents occur), American Redstart (in forests), and Yellow Warbler (also most often in moist thickets and riparian areas).

As for the Santa Cruz area of California, the leading suspects during the non-breeding season (winter) include Townsend’s Warbler (a non-breeding season visitor only), Common Yellowthroat (a resident), and Yellow-rumped Warbler (non-breeding season only), with less likely visits from Hermit, Yellow-breasted Chat, Black-throated Gray, Wilson’s, and Orange-crowned, (with the latter often the most typical “winter” sighting among the final five listed above. 

Hope this helps. Now back to our regularly scheduled program, meaning I’m outta here with my binos.

(male Common Yellowthroat,
below/right; photo by
Dan Pancamo)



Monday, April 15, 2019

Warbler Guy: Where's good warbler migration sites? Do you recommend some migration birding spots to see warblers?

Good questions, Benjamin (in Seattle).

Dozens of excellent "migrant traps" for watching warblers and other songbirds exist in the lower 48 states in the USA.

I'll mention a few here: (courtesy of http://www.birding.com/top200hotspots.asp)

There's many other excellent options beyond the ones I note below. Which ones would you add to my list?

*

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Georgia
33.91 N 84.61 W
The mile-long road to the top of the "mountain" should yield about 20 warbler species in late April. On weekends, you can ride a shuttle bus to the top. Good trails cover most of this park located about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta.

Cape May, NJ
38.56 N 74.57 W
Hawks "funnel" into Cape May each fall, making this the best spot on the East Coast for raptors. Fantastic for warblers and other migrating birds in spring and fall. One of the top 10 spots in North America.

Central Park, New York City
40.47 N 73.58 W
Birds? In New York City? During spring migration, Central Park is a welcomed island of green trees in the middle of a concrete desert. Warblers, Tanagers, Grosbeaks (and maybe a Rock Dove).

Crane Creek/Magee Marsh/Ottawa NWR
41.37 N 83.09 W
Spring migration here may be even better than Point Pelee -- and two hours closer if you live in Ohio! Go visit the Oak Openings and Irwin Prairie on the west side of Toledo as well.

Point Pelee
41.56 N 82.31 W
This tip of Ontario extends into Lake Erie, forming a welcome site for migrating birds in May and a natural "funnel" in the fall. Warblers in the spring are everywhere. Watch the flight of Monarch butterflies and huge flocks of Blue Jays in the fall. Considered by most as one of the Top 10 birding spots in North America.

Devil's Lake State Park, Wisconsin
43.42 N 89.73 W
Great scenery and a mix of northern and southern birds can be found here. For worm-eating Warbler, try nearby Baxter's Hollow Preserve. The International Crane Foundation is located just north of here in Baraboo.

*

As for when warbler migration begins during the spring, the range of dates vary by latitude and, often, annually, based on weather patterns.

In general (and to oversimplify), warbler migration begins in Florida in March (and becomes obvious by April) while southern Wisconsin, for example, attracts warblers in abundance by the last week of April (though it more typically peaks in the first or second week of May). Point Pelee (noted above) is often best visited during the initial days of May while upper Michigan usually peaks with warbler activity during the third and fourth weeks of May.

That's not to say warbler migration is absent prior to March in Florida or prior to May in Wisconsin. Early warbler visitors are present in both areas (e.g., LA Waterthrush in FL; Yellow-rumped and Palm Warbler in WI, among other species).

But, again, in general, warbler migration is best considered an April and May phenomenon in most lower 48 USA states.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Hi Davey....

Answer to your question, above: You can check:

http://digest.sialia.com/?rm=all_lists

....with this site a composite list featuring all the listserv sites in California.

Click on one or more as you please to see the latest bird sightings lists posted by
birders.

Questions?

Glad to help: danieledelstein@att.net

Early arrivals in 2019 so far in Marin County (first county north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the SF Bay Area) and where many of my birding tours occur (along with Sonoma Co., a county north of Marin Co.):

- Black-headed Grosbeak (about 2 weeks earlier than most years, if this individual was a true migrant and NOT an over-wintering aberrant)

- Wilson's Warbler (heard in February this year; earlier than some years)

- Grasshopper Sparrow (~3/18 by a Sonoma Co. birder....I noticed my first ones on 3/24 and 3/25/19 at Mt. Burdell in Novato....near where I live.)

Regards, Daniel

warblerwatch.com


Monday, March 18, 2019

Warbler Guy, when should I expect to begin seeing migrant-arriving Yellow-rumped Warblers?



Gus, in Wisconsin, you should expect this common wood-warbler (that nests in n. WI) to vary annually in its arrival time, given the vagaries of spring weather in the Midwest.

Generally, first migrants north of their winter range occur in the Upper Midwest by as early as late March, but greater pulses arrive beginning in early April and soon after.

At this time (often when few if any leaves are present on deciduous trees), the Myrtle subspecies of the Yellow-rumps (Setophaga cornonata coronata) may seem ubiquitous, as some birders' patience levels are tested when bird-after-bird is, AGAIN, deemed a Yellow-rumped sighting.

That's a typical scenario in WI BEFORE the initial warm, Gulf breezes occur from the south.

Then, almost like magic in the final week of April or in early May, the diverse parade of wood-warbler family members begin appearing ALONG with Yellow-rumped.

In summary:

Peak movements of Yellow-rumps in the northern US and southern Canada occur from late April through mid-May. Like many songbird species, male Yellow-rumps migrate earlier than females, averaging 4 to 7 days sooner in their arrival upon breeding grounds.

Keep in mind that some hardy Yellow-rumped Warbler individuals remain throughout the non-breeding season in the Upper Midwest, especially during warmer winters.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Warbler Guy, I seek a high-quality binocular, but at a good price. Thoughts?

Peter (in Des Moines):

Plenty of choices, of course.

But where to start.

First, I ALWAYS sample any binocular or spotting scope before purchasing it. That's common sense.

More challenging: WHERE to find a good optics resource? What's a birder to do?

One quick fix: I have bought optics from the following online and storefront source that
features diverse choices for binoculars, spotting scopes, and optic accessories:

Out of This World Optics
(OutofThisWorldOptics.com)

The owners (Marilyn Rose and James Blackstock) provide personal service.

(They are at: 800-228-8252.....and Mendocino is a sweet, coastal town in southern Mendocino County, ~120 north of San Francisco)


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Warbler Guy, my California bird tour means I'm looking for rare birds in California. Where do I find rare California birds on a listserv?


Hi Davey....and, "yes," and I remember you from the birding tour you invited me to lead you upon in 2012.

Answer to your question, above: You can check:

http://digest.sialia.com/?rm=all_lists

....with this site a composite list featuring all the listserv sites in California.

Click on one or more as you please to see the latest bird sightings lists posted by
birders.

Questions?

Glad to help: danieledelstein@att.net

By the way, forget the upcoming Spring Equinox, merely 17 days away....Instead: did you know our spring actually begins in October, annually. Huh?

Yes, true: I begin hearing the courtship "peek" sound from male Anna's Hummingbirds that month. As the males descend during their courtship dance, air rushing through their tail feathers at the bottom of their elevator drop initiates the "peek" sound.

By December, eggs are in the nest in the SF Bay Area, with Great Horned Owl joining the maternity ward by January as females incubate eggs or hatch them.

Even a few Orange-crowned Warbler migrant returnees have likely already returned here, given it's 3/3/19.

I'm not one of the privileged to have yet detected them in our woodland habitats — I live and bird a lot in the Novato area where I live, 20 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge — but I imagine a sleuthing of eBird would reveal this common breeding wood-warbler has returned in small numbers to date.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Warbler Guy, can you help me ID these warblers? Which web site helps ID birds when I have photos?


Jessie (in Redding, CA), thanks for the photos.......To help you, please try looking at:

http://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/photo-id

As for your warbler photos that you shared with me, below, here's my opinion as to their identities (from top to bottom):

Nashville, Orange-crowned, Yellow-breasted Chat

Regards, Daniel

Certified Wildlife Biologist Asc.

Avian Biologist & Birding Guide

warblerwatch.com (hosts my resume)


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Warbler Guy, can you give me a quick way to tell Myrtle from Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler during the winter (non-breeding season)? I see both subspecies of Yellow-rumps where I live in the winter (SF Bay Area), so knowing how to tell Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies apart would probably be a good idea.


Jay, in San Francisco, there’s two field marks that are excellent, diagnostic clues to help you identify both of these subspecies apart from one another (see drawings, below).

Let's sort out the "winter" plumages here only, given the obvious differences in appearance for breeding season individuals of both subspecies. 

Most (but NOT all) Audubon’s adults during the "winter" wear a faint to solid yellow throat and the Myrtle always possesses a white throat. In all age classes — from hatch year to definitive adults — a Myrtle never shows a yellow throat. That’s the easy, brief answer.



(Above drawing courtesy of National Geographic.)

But it’s not the full one. That’s because rare to occasional individuals of Audubon's ALSO may express a white throat. Which means it's possible to view a white-throated Yellow-rumped Warbler that could be EITHER the Myrtle or Audubon's subspecies.

So now what do you do for ID?

Use the absence of a faint supercilum (i.e., eyebrow) to identify Audubon’s (see drawing here) during the non-breeding "winter" season. Noticing the lack of this feature on a Yellow-rumped Warbler with a white throat should move you to say: “Bingo, it’s an Audubon’s" (i.e., Audubon's are said to wear a "plain face.)

However, if you see during the non-breeding season both a faint white supercilum mark and a white throat that reaches around toward the middle and mid-back region of the neck area on both sides of the head, then it’s a Myrtle.

In sum, Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler shows a faint white supercilum and a greater amount of white throat surface area than the Audubon’s subspecies that has a more plain face (lacking the white supercilium mark) and a smaller white to, more typically, faint to dark yellow throat.

The definitive source for my judgment in this matter consistently remains the Identification Guide to North American Bird, Part 1, by Peter Pyle (Slate Creek Press), which is the bird bander's guide to identification of birds "in the hand," and features field mark information corresponding to all age classes of songbirds.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Warbler Quiz #16...Can You Name These Warblers, Below?

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


Check back by 1/19/19 for the answers....or email me at danieledelstein@att.net
warblerwatch.com


(See "Birding Links" pulldown menu for birding information)
warblerwatch.blogspot.com


Regards, Daniel


Freelance Avian Biologist



Birding Guide