Sunday, February 14, 2021

Warbler Guy, which warbler species in our USA area visit nectar feeders?


"Yes," Stevie (in Orlando):

Although it sounds strange, a few warbler species visit nectar feeders (e.g., 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)}

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Warbler Guy, do female warblers sing? If so, how many singing warbler females occur? Or only males sing? What about other singing female songbirds? Yes? No?

 Yes, Hanna (in Fargo) it's true — some female wood-warblers sing.

But not many. 

In fact, it's a lonely "crowd" of two female USA-based wood-warbler species —  Yellow and American Redstart — that sing, according to to Jon Dunn & Kimball Garrett, author of the "Warblers" field guide (Peterson Guide Field Guide Series, Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

BUT: There's good news. I recently listened to the American Birding Association's weekly podcast. A guest on that episode noted that more female songbird order species are now known to sing than previously thought. Amazingly, she claimed her research and other field professionals have determined that recent studies indicate new additions to the female choir are ongoing.

Does that mean more than two female breeding USA wood-warbler species are now should be added to the Dynamic Duo represented in the past by merely the Yellow and American Redstart?

I'm not sure, but your question prompts me to write Dr. Garrett and Mr. Dunn...and, indeed, I may see both of them in 2021 at an upcoming conference, if the virus dynamic relents and, in turn, in-person meetings again occur. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, and lastly:

Your question relates to the larger question of how singing birds develop their song.

In general, the prevailing theory until recently was that few female songbird order members (and MERELY the two aforementioned breeding USA wood-warbler species) possess physical attributes designed to memorize and learn their song (ala the males that MUST have a singing mentor from which they hear, learn, and memorize a vocalization).

Next, note that wood-warblers are like most other songbirds. They experience a period of practicing a song in a stage that is called "plasticity."

Depending on the species of wood-warbler, true, definitive adult song is achieved by no later than the commencement of the following breeding season after a newborn singer arrives in a previous year's brood.

When that moment of virtuosity appears, it's called "crystalization" (when complete, full, learned song can be repeated by an individual).

Now there's a magnificent term that rings a chord of delight in any birder's heart.

Meanwhile, I'm Ready, Set, Go for the spring migration north of the wood-warblers? Are you? 

We're lucky in the SF Bay Area where I live and conduct regular birding tours as a Birding Guide to detect Orange-Crowned Warbler as early as the first week of February annually....with a vanguard of other family cohorts soon to follow as late winter ends and spring arrives, including: Wilson's; Black-throated Gray; Hermit; Common Yellowthroat (another subspecies arrives to join a resident subspecies in the SF Bay Area.....and/or passes through the area heading north); Yellow-rumped (individuals arrive from the south, perhaps, with other "over-wintering" individuals leaving and heading north; and, perhaps, Northern Parula (periodic nester in Marin Co., per recent eBird reports from the 2000s forward to the current date).

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Birding Guide

Certified Wildlife Biologist Asc.

College Instructor for all birding classes at Merritt College (Oakland, CA) (hosts my resume) (this 15-year-old wood-warbler blog)

Monday, December 28, 2020

Warbler Guy, how do I know if warbler migration is strong? Migrating warblers are more dense on some spring days than other ones?

Good question, Hector (in Toledo, OH)

One that I recommend:
(with the following pictorial graphic a past example from its web site) 

At the above link, you'll read about the current week's presence of migrators and predictions.

It is a great resource, given the BirdCast forecast highlights migrant species that you can expect to see near where you live (and elsewhere in Ohio) — in addition to several USA regions: Upper Midwest and Northeast; Gulf Coast and Southeast; Great Plains; and West. 

Regarding your question, depending on the season (and several other factors), Birdcast can help you anticipate the density and abundance to expect on an upcoming birding outing. For example, a large arrival of transient migrant songbirds could be expected for your outing, if the red/purple colors are present just south of you in the spring while a south "Gulf Stream" wind occurs. In turn, this push may result in fine birding the following morning after you view this development (at Birdcast).

I hope this answer helps you.....Feel free to float me more questions at or visit my web page for more migration information related to "Bird Arrival Times (Via Migration) For Marin Co. (where I live in the San Francisco Bay area) at (choose the "Birding Links" pulldown menu and click on the above category: "Bird Arrival Times".

As for my birding tours that I continue to host while employing several social-distancing methods, details are noted via the "Birding Tours" section at my web site (

Regards and Happy New Year to you and all my followers.....Daniel


Thursday, December 10, 2020

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

 Jerry (in southern Michigan).....Great questions. 


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.

As an FYI, I'm soon leading a tour to Bodega Bay, so I'll stop at Diekmann's Store in this town. Below its foundation on the adjoining hillsides that slope downward toward Bodega Bay, the understory this time of year, typically attracting wood-warbler species such as Townsend's (non-breeding resident) Orange-crowned (breeding resident, with some "over-wintering,") and/or Yellow-rumped Warbler (primarily, the Audubon's subspecies: Setophaga coronata auduboni with S. c. cornonata (Myrtle subspecies of the Yellow-rumped Warbler).

Bodega Bay, by the way, is one of the most popular birding destinations for the birders I lead on tours throughout central and northern California.

Thus, feel free to see the "Birding Tours" section of my web site:

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

415-382-1827 (office)
415-246-5404 (iPhone 12 Pro)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Warbler Guy, I am in California and beginning a "Big Year" of birding in 2021, but I'm staying in California for all my forays. Hence, which resource will help me see documented bird observations in each CA county, please?

Hello Corey (in Santa Barbara):

Kudos to you....Sounds exciting.


County by county lists of sightings for CA appear via John Sterling's home page at:

See the link to a file here and, then, go to each of the CA counties to which you will visit.

I hope this helps!

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Birding Guide

Consulting Avian Biologist
(hosts my "Birding Tour" information as well as diverse birding information for N. CA) (this blog's #)

415-382-1827 (office)

415-246-5404 (iPhone)

Monday, November 2, 2020

Warbler Guy, which is the ONE wood-warbler field guide to buy a friend for the upcoming holiday season?


Good question, Joey (in St. Paul):

Unwrapping your holiday gift is likely to result in euphoric glee, if you give your friend the The Warbler Guide (Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle; Princeton Univ. Press, 2013)

It's the most current, comprehensive field guide focusing on the New World wood-warblers in the Parulidae family.

Where to get it? is a wonderful resource, given the total cost for the book, including shipping is featured from low to high price after you type in a book title.

Funny related anecodote.

Tom Stephenson's brother (Mark) lives near me, so we often see each other at vagrant spots while birding along the N. CA coast where I live in Marin Co. (SF Bay Area).

Mark is an excellent birder, who has an equally adept birder son.

Scott Whittle highlighted this guide at a Golden Gate Audubon Society presentation that I attended. Inventive, eloquent speaker. Wonderful.

And so is the field guide.

Happy gift giving.....Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Birding Guide


Avian Biologist (with five federal USFWS survey permits, 

415-246-5404 (iPhone)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Warbler Guy, identifying "Myrtle" vs. "Audubon's" Yellow-rumped Warbler is possible by call and song?


Good question, Kristen:

Here's one general answer, that I dare say is also an oversimplification of this complex topic.

First, you are probably aware from your smart question that a "call" note is a different and distinct vocalization than a "song," — the latter of which is typically a learned and memorize rendition sung in most cases by males as a rhythmic vocalization of one or more phrases (e.g., think of a loquacious Northern Mockingbird).

A "call" note is one element. 

Most songbirds express one call note, ala your question, above.


Obviously, Yellow-rumped Warbler individuals are NOT currently 
singing during the non-breeding season, but you do often hear 
their loud chip or call notes where the subspecies Audubon’s 
and Myrtle Yellow-Rumped Warbler forage during the non-breeding season.

This is the case throughout the San Francisco Bay area 
where I live. In the fall and through March (and, even, 
into April), most of the Yellow-rumped Warblers seen 
and heard occur as the Audubon's subspecies. 
Sometimes, I am able to spot a Myrtle 
subspecies individual....though for every, 
say, 100 Audubon's I see in the SF Bay 
Area, approximately one is a Myrtle subspecies.

(Note the Audubon's subspecies nests in 
a few higher elevations in the SF Bay Area, 
including Marin County where I live (20 miles 
north of the Golden Gate Bridge).)

In many cases you can hear how the Myrtle 
(one of the subspecies of the Yellow-rumped 
Warbler species) has a flatter and softer 
chip note than the Audubon’s.
The “ch” component of the call note is 
weaker for the Myrtle and it often gives 
many calls in rapid succession.

However, be careful. Intergrades (individuals 
that display visual characteristics specific 
to both Audubon’s and Myrtle) may 
announce call notes of the other subspecies. 
In other words, it’s possible to see a bird that 
looks like an Audubon’s, but it’s call note 
sounds like a Myrtle. This individual could 
likely be an intergrade.

Regards, Daniel
(hosts my resume and my "Birding Tours" 
information for N. and Central CA tours that 
I have conducted since 2001)