Monday, December 31, 2012

Warbler Guy, I’m visiting northern California in January, so which warblers might I see on the coast?

The answer depends on where and how long you scour the landscape (along with luck).

For example, on 12/30, Ruth Rudesill found the following seven species (below account within quote marks) amid the Bodega Bay, Sonoma County area. Hermit and Black-throated Gray Warbler would be two more forest species that are uncommon to rare non-breeding species to see in January along the central/northern coast.

Within Sonoma County (per the below account), two good spots to check in the Bodega Bay area include Diekmann's Deli and Owl Canyon (both of which are highlighted at Colin Talcroft's birding spots of Sonoma Co. via:

“It was a glorious day at Bodega Bay - sunshine, little wind. At Diekmann's the sun shone on the eucalyptus tree above the store ad had birds! I felt Rich S. was there showing me a Nashville Warbler along with a Yellow, Orange-crowned, Townsend's and Yellow-rumped! Chickadees were calling and it was very special.

Later in the day refound the the Palm Warbler with our group at the Cypress area of Doran Reg Park. (Dea Freid and Mike Parmeter had this bird last week ) but we saw not one but two! 7th species was a Common Yellowthroat.

Later an immature Black-legged Kittiwake flew by us at the Jetty. The male Eurasian Wigeon was at the Doran entrance pond. A flock of 300 Aleutian type Cackler Geese flew over Dea, Scott Carey and me later in the afternoon.

We saw the dark Red-tailed Hawk, , female Peregrine Falcon and the almost adult Bald eagle over the harborside part of Doran Park too

Hopefully others will post their great finds! So glad to have the day off birding with my friends!”

Ruth Rudesill
Kenwood CA

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Here's answers to recent warbler quizzes (that appear on the right side column)

Quiz Answers

As you scroll from top to bottom on the right column, here's corresponding answers to the most
recent quizzes for which I have not yet provided answers:

1. Identity of warbler photos from top to bottom: Cerulean, N. Parula, Prothonotary, Swainson's, Yellow

2. Fifty-five or 56 warbler species typically annually occur in N. America north of Mexico.

3. Spruce budworm — which experience boom and bust cycles — is an imperative food resource that is often a limiting factor influencing the nesting success of some boreal forest breeding warblers.

4. Late arriving species in spring vary, but often include all three in the quiz: Blackpoll, Connecticut, and Canada.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Warblers on Christmas Bird Counts? Are they easy to find, Warbler Guy? Which warblers might I see during wintery-wintery Christmas Bird Count walks?

Good question, Cristin (in Davenport, IA).

Maybe you should head to Ashland, WI to see the true version of the BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER shown in this photo from 11/23/12?

Will it hang around long enough for you to see on the local Christmas Bird Count there?

Read the account from Ryan Brady, below, and you'll notice how rare it is to see this species so far north in late November.

As for more likely wood-warbler species to see in northern latitudes (upper Midwest, for example) in late December and early January: Yellow-rumped, Pine, Palm, Common Yellow-throat, Orange-crowned, and Yellow-breasted Chat are more likely suspects. Yellow-rumped is probably the most likely of the above list, with Pine next typical.


Yesterday when the temps were a balmy 60+ degrees I was sent a photo of a female BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER at a feeder in Cornucopia, the northernmost town in Wisconsin.  If accepted by the Records Committee, it would be the 3rd latest in Wisconsin history.  With wind chills now in the teens and 6-9" of fresh snow across the Bayfield Peninsula, we'll see how it fares.

Interestingly, the homeowner also commented on seeing a flycatcher of some type (possible E. Phoebe), which is one that may have gotten away given the potential for a southwestern vagrant along this Great Lakes shoreline.  And one final tidbit, this is the same residence that recently hosted a Summer Tanager and not-so-recently hosted our only local record of Green-tailed Towhee. If his house ever goes up for sale, you know who will be first in line!

Not quite as rare but still a great find, budding young birder and photographer Cody Christenson found a PINE WARBLER at his feeders just west of Ashland in the snowy cold this morning.  I believe our latest, or perhaps second latest, local record.

Ryan Brady
Washburn, Bayfield County, WI

Monday, November 12, 2012

Warbler Guy, where would you go now to see Palm Warbler? Blackpoll Warbler? Yellow-throated Warbler?

Coincidentally, Evan (in Los Angeles), all three of these species are currently present in San Francisco's urban clutches within Sue Bierman Park (near the Ferry Building in the downtown area). Josiah Clark's recent post in SF Birds confirmed their presence.

In recent years, this "island of green" has hosted more than a few species of wayward wood-warbler species.

The urban-based, warbler-pursuing paparrazzi shall not be disappointed again this year, with the Yellow-throated Warbler repeatedly seen for the last weeks in this inner-city location.

To find it, go to the right side of this blog and note the bird's presence in the California bird species report, then click on the hot text button to see a Google map. Or type in "Sue Bierman Park, San Francisco" within Google maps to find this location.

By the way, if you see the Yellow-throated Warbler, it's gleaming, breeding plumage is evident because as adults, members of this species undergo only one full molt annually (i.e., A pre-alternate molt is absent, unlike the vast majority of wood-warblers that express this molting phase.) The result: After a late summer/fall complete "pre-basic molt," the current rendition of this species retains its current, bright regal glory amid the nearby bustle of downtown San Francisco.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Warbler Guy, which late migrating warblers might I see now? Is Orange-crowned seen in New England this late?

Alexandria (in New Haven, CT).

Yes, it's true Orange-crowned Warbler may be present in New England this late.

Although most of the Canadian and Alaskan subspecies (Oreothlypis celata celata) found in the USA by this time are in the southern USA, a few brave ones persist now from the Mid-Atlantic to New England. Even fewer will remain by the time Christmas Bird Count results are tabulated, but it's not uncommon for some groups to see Orange-crowned into the new year and, during some non-breeding seasons, some will through the winter as far north as New England.

That's why the recent Rare Bird Alert posting, below, from Rhode Island is notable.

As for other wood-warbler species that are sometimes seen in northern latitudes (e.g., From Wisconsin east to New England) in late October, look for Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, and Yellow-breasted Chat as leading candidates. Evidently, Tennessee Warbler is also a member of the truant bunch this year, given the same Rhode Island posting, below.


* Rare Bird Alert
* Rhode Island
* Statewide 
* October 28, 2012
*  RIRI1210.28
- Birds mentioned
Snow  Bunting
Ipswich Savannah Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow
Semipalmated  Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Lapland Longspur
Pine Siskin
Tennessee Warbler
Hermit Thrush
Brown  Thrasher
American Bittern
     date: October 28, 2012
(401)  949-5454 or 245-7500 ext 3052
compiler: Janice  St.Jean
transcriber: Janice St.Jean (_DLSaint@aol_ (mailto:DLSaint@aol) )
_www.asri.org_ ( 
Welcome to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island's bird alert for October  
28th, 2012. This report covers the period from October 21st to October 27th, 
and  will be updated in about one week.
The WOOD SANDPIPER that was found at Marsh Meadows in Jamestown on the  
13th, is still being seen every day.  The bird frequents the Northeast and  
Northwest corners of the marsh. Park at the water treatment plant on North 
Road.  To reach the NW corner of the marsh, take the public access path on the 
left, or  south, of the chain-link fence at the plant. After a short walk and 
after a  white pipe, take the much narrower path to the marsh on your left. 
Once at the  marsh, walk right along the marsh edge for about 50 yards. To 
reach the the NE  corner, take the marsh-edge trail on the East side of the 
road, across the  street from the treatment plant, and follow the well worn 
path to the back pools  where the bird feeds.  Trails are getting worn and 
muddy, boots are  recommended.  On the 22nd, a BALD EAGLE was spotted there.
A juvenile RUFF was found in Barrington on the 23rd, and has been observed  
every day since then. It is in the marsh adjacent to Barrington Country 
Club  along Nyatt Road.  Access can be gained from RISD's Tillinghast estate.  
Park in the dirt lot and Walk down the trail through the mowed field to the 
path  that cuts through the marsh.  A DICKCISSEL was seen here on the 24th, 
AND 2  SNOW BUNTINGS were viewed on the 25th.  Other sightings this past 
At Sunset Farm in Narraganset, 3 VESPER SPARROWS were seen on the 21st. A  
single VESPER SPARROW was observed along a field edge in the Seapowet area 
of  Tiverton on the 22nd.
In Westerly, a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on the lawn and in the parking lot at  
the Watch Hill Lighthouse on the 27th.  At Avondale Farm Preserve, 1  
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was seen on the 23rd.
Sightings of EVENING GROSBEAK are being reported, with a flyover at the  
Audubon Society of Rhode Island's Caratunk Refuge in Seekonk on the 25th, a  
visit by 3 at a feeder in Middletown, and another 3 were sighted at a feeder 
in  Charlestown this week. In addition, PINE SISKINS continue to invade all 
parts of  the state.
A TENNESSEE WARBLER was studied in Little Compton, at the Goulart Community 
 Garden on the 26th.
THRASHERS were found at Camp Cronin in Point Judith.
Finally, at Mud pond at the end of Moonstone Beach Road in South Kingstown, 
 1 AMERICAN BITTERN was seen.  The water level at Mud and Card's Pond has  
been lowered.  
That's all for this week, thank you for calling and good birding!
- End transcript

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fab Five Warbler Photo Quiz #6

Another warbler photo quiz? Just pleasing the customers who asked for ANOTHER
photo quiz of warblers.

More specific, the following wood-warbler photo quiz has four easy
ones and the fifth is more often heard than seen (and, big hint: looks like a Worm-Eating Warbler, but is not this species....see below photos, all courtesy of Martin Meyers).

Good luck and I'll post the answers by around 11/1/12 in a new post. Please check back, if you wish....Warbler Guy (Daniel Edelstein,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Warbler Guy, where do I learn about "reading" warbler songs (sonograms or spectrograms)? Is Warbler song easy to "read?"

Kathy, there's a one-stop shopping venue for all your edification needs:

Here, Nathan Pieplow, an erudite sound recordist and expert birder, highlights many "ear birding"
elements, including ways for you to easily read sonograms/spectrograms.

This site is so good that it gets a top rating from Warbler Guy's advisory panel: me, myself, and I.

Seriously, reading and interpreting sonograms/spectrograms takes practice, but after a while you can
see the elements upon the page that originally looked like gibberish make sense.

Ergo, you'll quickly have no problems identifying a song sparrow classic song via its sonogram in comparison to a common yellowthroat's, and so on.

Other resources for identifying birds by sound and "ear birding" abound.....Some of my favorite are books by Dr. Donald Kroodsma, who authored the classic:
The Singing Life Of Birds.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Warbler Guy: Which wood-warblers benefit from people changing their coffee drinking patterns by buying beans that are “shade grown”....?

Warbler Guy: Which wood-warbler species' utilize non-breeding season habitat in the tropics that includes "shade grown" coffee farms? In theory, is it correct that 
changing coffee drinking patterns favoring "shade grown" coffee could benefit songbirds such as wood-warblers?

The brief answer, Jeremiah (in Rockford, IL)
is to note that several wood-warbler species likely
benefit from changed coffee farming methods that
favor “shade-grown” coffee, including Canada, Wilson's, Black-throated Green, and Cerulean Warbler. Cerulean populations, in specific, have dropped precipitously, perhaps in part due to habitat destruction of their "wintering" grounds (per Breeding Bird Survey trends and results suggested by other monitoring efforts).

To learn more (go to the web site) and/or see the following two links:

(For a nice overview of a blog site article related to the benefits of using "shade grown" coffee as your morning delight choice, please see:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Warbler Guy: Among the strangest warbler questions, a leading one must be: Why is the Yellow-breasted Chat still classified a wood-warbler?

Smart question, Andrea (in Spokane, WA).

Because even a quick glance at a chat suggests — even "yells" — the thought: This species is NOT a warbler, given the large bill (in comparison to other wood-warbler species), large size (two inches bigger than many other wood-warbler species), and a mimic-like/Mimidae family member-like song that is unlike the more dainty, plaintive song heard in most other wood-warbler species.
So: Here's why the Yellow-breasted remains in the wood-warbler family (Parulidae), despite considerable mutiny and bounty dialog that seeks to oust it. Note that two respected analyses of this warbler species’ blood anatomy (i.e., its molecular characters) continue to place the species in the wood-warbler family. More specific (for you molecularly-literate warbler fans), based on the analysis of proteins encoded by loci in various wood-warbler species, the chat remains grouped with other wood-warbler family members. 
Other researchers — including David Sibley’s dad, Charles Sibley — concluded, likewise, through blood analysis (i.e., DNA hyridization) that the chat should remain in the warbler family, despite comparisons of it to tanagers, vireos, mimids (Mimidae family members), and other bird groups.  

OK, I'll abide. The taxonomists know a lot more than me. 

But if a chat is a warbler, then Santa Claus needs scuba diving gear.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hey, Warbler Guy, where can I see a Connecticut Warbler this autumn?

Thanks, Hank (in New York state):

Here's one, below, that was seen on Friday, 9/7/12.....So, Hank, I'll spring for your gas and you scoot east (young man)....Maybe you'll see the one below that Brian Toal observed....If you see it, Hank, please let me know so I can immediately turn green (with envy).

In other words, I rarely see or hear a COWA (Connecticut Warbler).

Are other readers like me in striking out often with this nemesis bird?

Feel free to answer this question by clicking on the comments button below...and you can
add your comment via the "anonymous" button....a method that is fastest way to post a comment
at this blog site.....

Cheers to you enjoying the warblers,

Daniel (415-382-1827;;
Subject: Connecticut Warbler, west Hartford powerlines
Date: Sat Sep 8 2012 7:06 am
From: penguinsz AT
9/8 - Brian Toal just called to report a Connecticut Warbler on the powerline cut on Rt 44 in West Hartford, going up Avon mountain. The bird was found between the first and second poles on the left side of the trail.

Sara Zagorski


Monday, August 20, 2012

Warbler Guy: Now that "fall" southbound migration has begun, where's a GREAT web site to check rare bird sightings in the area where I live? Where I plan to bird soon on my upcoming birding vacation?

Stacey, great question, and here's a new web site where you can read rare bird reports corresponding to any USA state (to which you might travel for birding and wish to know which "cool" bird species
are potential "hot" draws for you and other birders to sleuth out:

Jeff Gordon, the American Birding Association's (ABA) Executive Director, noted the importance of this new web site in the following linked article that goes to the ABA's web site where an ongoing update of rare bird sightings is present at:

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Birding Guide Since The 1980s

Certified Wildlife Biologist Asc.

Avian Biologist


Community College Birding Instructor

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Warbler Guy, where can I see autumn warbler migration on radar? Judging & planning potential good fall warbler watching days is possible by looking at online radar web sites?

Yes, Charlene (in Dubuque, IA), there's a superb composite radar site I recommend for birders:

Here, the current article posts relate to last spring's migration patterns, BUT on the
right side of the home page, look for the department heading "BIRDAR Network."

This listing of radar sites will help you get current information related to this summer and fall's migration dyanamics. So, for example, if you're wondering whether tomorrow is a likely heavy migration of incoming warblers through the Pheasant Branch Creek Conservancy (a superb Middleton, WI (Madison suburb) warbler "magnet trap" nature preserve/park with miles of hiking and biking trails within 15 minutes of the University of Wisconsin campus), then look at one or more of the sites posted under the "BIRDAR Network" area at the site. 

Wisconsin birders, alone, will be treated to their own Wisconsin-centric radar view of the southern portion of the Badger state (see graphic here, BELOW). Interpreting the color code meanings is another story for a different article here (or maybe one of my WarblerWatch followers wishes to pose a question to the infamous Warbler Guy, whomever that may be (?) ).

Note the site hosts many oThere's a chapter more of information that I could explain about monitoring radar sites to assist your birding efforts, but I don't have time now.

Instead, it's time to leave the Great Indoors, escaping with my binos that are cocked and ready to again view a couple of nearby juvenile Cooper's Hawk that I wish to currently go enjoy at dawn. That's when their calling behavior peaks. And with a pitch that initially resulted in head scratching. But then I listened more carefully, grabbed my long-term memory of the base root of an adult Cooper's typical staccato pattern. Result: daily Cooper's Hawk viewing fun.....and a nice substitute while I wait for the southbound warbler march to begin (i.e., I'll be in WI 8/30 - 9/4/12 to enjoy that region's warbler migration.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Which bird field guides feature range maps that show non- and breeding territory for species?

Not many. Perhaps none, if you're considering only the most common ones among birders. 

So, if not none, then which one? 

Here's the only title that (I know) features range maps depicting non-breeding and breeding range areas for many orders of birds:

Neotropical Migratory Birds: Natural History, Distribution, and Population Change.  1995. Richard M. DeGraaf and John H. Rappole. Comstock Publishing.

Why do I cherish the above title? Because, for example, if you wish to know the destination of "our" nesting wood-warbler family members that perform neotropical migration (i.e., obligate
long-distance migration), then this resource helps. 

I can look at p. 431 to see where in S. America BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER migrate to after the breeding season.

Other best-selling bird field guides typically merely feature a map that denotes no more than Mexico and northward within N. America (i.e., Central America and S. America are absent).

Ergo, true obligate, long-distance migrants such as the
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER are not accounted for year-round in most field guides' maps.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Warbler Guy, do the new AOU bird name changes include any for North American wood-warblers?

No, Carrie (in Madison, WI), there's no wood-warbler name changes in the 53rd Supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) Check-list of North American Birds . . . butthere's some other interesting changes that birders may wish to know.

Feel free to Read All About it at:

If you wish to save time and skip the study hall time, then here's the less-than-big-news highlights:
 1. First, as background, it should be noted that AOU and the name changes is anannual action performed by the American Ornithologists' Union (thus, AOU) andthis year's recent action creates the 53rd Supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of NorthAmerican Birds.

2. As for the name changes, they relate to a

a) split of the Xantus's Murrelet into two species;and

b) a shifting of the falcon and parrot orders to new positions on the check-list.

There's many other scientific name changes related to genera, but I won't bore you with those details, though they are present at the above web site link, if you wish to visit it.The one that I think is interesting for our NBB area — given the resident presence of our urbane House Finch and its close relative, the Purple Finch that also is a year-round resident in the NBB area — relates to how these two species(and the Cassin's Finch) are NO longer in the Carpodacus genus.....they are now separated from the Eurasian Rosefinches and these three finch species have beenplaced in the genus Haemorhous, which is name of an old finch genus.

So, if you're still following me, in a nutshell: It's hello Haemorhous and good-bye Carpodacus.

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Friday, July 13, 2012

Warbler Guy, what’s being done to help declining populations of Golden-winged Warbler?

Victor (in Chicago), one wildlife management technique currently employed to help create suitable breeding habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler (and other species that, likewise, prefer young, pioneer, second-growth vegetational habitats) originates from funding provided by such groups as The Ruffed Grouse Society, Wildlife Management Institute, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the American Bird Conservancy. 

Interested in promoting young forest management as a means to ensure the Golden-winged Warbler maintains its current breeding range in the upper Midwest, these groups have provided funds to public agencies (e.g., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) (DNR) that have wildlife biologists that, in turn, coordinate educational workshops for landowners interested in conserving the presence of their local avifauna species (e.g., Golden-winged Warbler). 

This kind of effort goes beyond Wisconsin, as my readings tell me one or more of the aforementioned groups is also helping fund other conservation efforts and management plans that seek to preserve various bird species’ populations, such as Ruffed Grouse that also often prefer to nest in similar habitat utilized by Golden-winged Warbler. 

As for my luck in finding Golden-winged Warbler recently, a fleeting glimpse with a transient in Door County a few weeks ago is a fine memory, thanks to my friend and wildlife biologist Paul Regnier who first spotted a foraging male. 

I say “lucky” because I never consider this species to be common or abundant. Traipsing through various Wisconsin warbler-watching locations through the years has always resulted in no more than five or 10 detections of this species annually. 

A rare vagrant on the West Coast to the Pt. Reyes National Seashore area also occurs, though I’m usually tardy chasing it, thereby swinging and missing at the pitches I see on the local North Bay Birds listserv within the Marin County (SF Bay Area) location where I live (Novato, a northern Marin Co. city).