Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Warbler Guy, did Kirtland's Warbler nest successfully in Wisconsin this year? Wisconsin Kirtland's Warbler were found nesting in more than one county?

Great question, Barry (in Stevens Point, WI).

 "Yes," correct: Kirtland's Warbler is an annual nester in more than one county in Wisconsin....with a nice summary of its success present at the following link:

http://silvis.forest.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/ACE-ECO-2021-2009.pdf

As for 2022, I will soon post an updated summary report from the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources.

Among Wisconsin counties annually hosting this federally endangered species, Adams County in central/north-central Wisconsin.

As you may already know, the Wisconsin nesting success phenomenon is a recent extension of this species' breeding range beyond Michigan where it traditionally breeds each year in approximately 10 counties (along with one Ontario nesting site).

Feel free to return soon here for the 2022 summary report I hope to soon receive.

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Birding Guide

&

Consulting Avian Biologist

WarblerWatch.com

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Warbler Guy, how many wood-warblers exist? How many do you see?

 
New World wood-warblers (that are not closely related to the various Old World warblers in the Eastern Hemisphere (e.g., Europe, Asia) are often identified to number as 112-115 species, occurring among 24-26 genera. The centers (or “epicenters”) of their breeding areas occur in eastern North America, the West Indies, Mexico and Central America, and Andean South America.

The majority of northern-latitude breeding species migrate, but many island and tropical species are sedentary. Many of these latter species remain close to their birthing areas or perform short-distance, post-breeding altitudinal/elevation migrations.


As for myself, I often see 20-30 wood-warbler species during early May when I return to homecoming birding forays in the Midwest (and, concurrently, attend the annual Wisconsin Society For Ornithology conference). 

This year, I was lucky to visit Wisconsin both in the spring and fall to search for neotropical migrant species, including wood-warbler family members. 

In so doing, I totaled 23 in the spring and 16 last month. 

All of these species are rare to absent by November in Wisconsin, except for the occasional remaining American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. The latter three may sometimes be detected during southern Wisconsin Christmas Bird Counts, with Yellow-rumped the most typical one seen.



In contrast, my n. CA residency, yields more warbler species during the breeding season — a result that surprises many people because the West is thought to host far fewer warbler species. For example, in Marin County (Bay Area) where I live, I often detect at least eight warbler species annually and, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (near Yuba Pass and/or amid the Gold Lakes country off of Highway 49 near Bassetts), I sometimes successfully sleuth out nine warbler species.




Monday, September 12, 2022

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: earbirding.com


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

Please see his web site: earbirding.org and his recent book's are excellent on this subject: a) Petersen Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Western N. America and b) Petersen Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern N. America.

The above web 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.

Is warbler song easy to read on sonograms? Some people find them easier to comprehend than others. I think the above resources will help. My opinion is that some sonogram songs are easy to understand and others are more incomprehensible.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Photo Quiz....Can You ID These Birds? Which One Is NOT a Warbler? To Which Does The Non-Warbler Belong?

 . . and good day to all. . . and who wishes to vote on the ID of the following four wood-warbler photos, BELOW?


(See FAR below for answers...Wish to Share and Tell this quiz with your birding friends....Thank you in advance, Daniel Edelstein, Birding Guide
warblerwatch.com)

(Photos courtesy of Martin Meyers.)





Answers from top to bottom: Prothonotary Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat, with 
the latter now in the Icteriidae family. It's no longer in the wood-warbler family (Parulidae).

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Warbler Guy, is July too early to see dispersing and migrating wood-warblers? When does warbler migration begin?

 Good question, Altuve (in Florida):

The answer is complex, but here's a few simplified, applicable principles:

1. For the majority of wood-warbler species in the Lower 48 of the USA, an initial clutch of newborns has already occurred.

Likewise, a good percentage first-year individuals have already dispersed from their natal nest origin.

This behavior may include foraging nearby where they were born, but not yet migrating by night to a non-breeding, "over-wintering" territory.

2. Which species are early dispersers (and migrators)?

In the West where I live (in the San Francisco Bay Area), Orange-crowned Warbler has completed its nesting cycle. Both young and adults have dispersed elsewhere, including (in some cases) to higher elevation "intermediate" staging areas where foraging opportunities are more successful where larger blooms of insects remain robust compared to the dry, often hot weather in non-coastal Bay Area locations.

In many cases, true southbound migration will follow by August and September.

In the East and Midwest, early dispersers include Tennessee and Yellow Warbler. By late July and August, I have periodically seen banders nets hosting these two species in areas where they do not nest.

3. As for more peak periods of warbler migration, it's fair to suggest that August and September are more common to note larger pulses of many other warbler species during the day as they forage before migrating at night to areas that range from southern states to Central America.

Then again, in my area, we welcome back a plentitude of Townsend's Warbler individuals by September and October as they return for the non-breeding season from more northern latitude breeding grounds. 

I hope this explanation helps.

Regards, Daniel

Birding Guide

Avian Biologist

WarblerWatch.com

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Warbler Guy, what's one quick tip to improve my birding by ear? Bird song memory is hard! -- so tips to learning bird songs and bird calls would be appreciated.

 Here's two fast relief pills to take online for learning bird vocalizations and, in particular, wood-warbler songs:


1. Go to xeno-canto.org

Type in the name of the nemesis bird that has you flummoxed (It's free, but you need to create an account with your use name and password).

2. To assess warbler species' songs and calls, go to the following web site that's associated with the excellent, incisive book The Warbler Guide (by Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson):

http://media2.macaulaylibrary.org/PMD/TWG/TheWarblerGuideAudioCompanion_Booklet.pdf

You may also wish to view:

thewarblerguide.com

and click on the "Companion Guide" button on the right side......Comprehensive information (!)



Otherwise, feel free to see my web site's home page and the "Birding Links" tab pulldown menu where a free handout titled "Top 10 Tips To Improving Your Birding By Ear" appears.

Happy birding and warbler hunting to all, Daniel

www.warblerwatch.cpom

http://warblerwatch.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Warbler Guy, where's some of the most ideal migrant trap, migrant hot spots in the USA?

 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.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Warbler Guy, what are some techniques I can use to increase my ability to remember warbler songs and commit them to my long-term memory? Birding by ear tips you recommend?

 Excellent question, Bernice (in Chicago).


Here's some solution options to consider:

1. First, based on teaching "bird by ear" classes for more than 25 years, I believe every birder progresses different to identify birds by ear. 

That’s why I offer 10 diverse hints in my Top Ten Tips To Improving Your Birding By Ear handout that’s free at my web site: warblerwatch.com

There, first click on “Birding Links,” and when the next screen shows a menu of files, click on Top Ten Tips To Improving Your Birding By Ear to access it and/or print it.

As a prequel to what you’ll read, here’s one tip among the 10:

#5. “Draw” bird vocalizations using your own “short-hand” notation marks, ala the chapter in Sibley’s Birding Basics (i.e., a quasi-sonogram shorthand method that he introduces). After your birding foray and when you’re out of the field, use these written notation marks while listening to songs/calls on media (e.g., CDs) to ID the species you heard and/or better learn their song/call patterns.
2. I suggest you consider perusing the web site:
earbirding.org
It's excellent and Nathan Pieplow's two ear birding guides are fine resources:
The Field Guide to Eastern Bird Songs of North America....and The Field Guide to Western Bird Songs of North America.
The introduction to both of these field guides hosts valuable information from which the vigilant reader will immediately benefit.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Warbler Guy, what are some techniques I can use to increase my ability to remember warbler songs and commit them to my long-term memory? Birding by ear tips you recommend?

 Excellent question, Bernice (in Chicago).


Everyone’s different, I have discovered, in terms of learning style in the field and progressing toward a Master’s of Science in IDing Birds By Ear.

That’s why I offer 10 diverse hints in my Top Ten Tips To Improving Your Birding By Ear handout that’s free at my web site: warblerwatch.com

There, first click on “Birding Links,” and when the next screen shows a menu of files, click on Top Ten Tips To Improving Your Birding By Ear to access it and/or print it.

As a prequel to what you’ll read, here’s one tip among the 10:

#5. “Draw” bird vocalizations using your own “short-hand” notation marks, ala the chapter in Sibley’s Birding Basics (i.e., a quasi-sonogram shorthand method that he introduces). After your birding foray and when you’re out of the field, use these written notation marks while listening to songs/calls on media (e.g., CDs) to ID the species you heard and/or better learn their song/call patterns.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Warbler Guy, what’s an example of a “superspecies” in the wood-warbler family?

 

What’s an example of a “superspecies” in the wood-warbler family?



(The Black-Throated Gray Warbler in the above photo is one of five species within the Black-Throated Green superspecies group.)

Thanks for the query, Ms. Jones (in Santa Barbara, CA).

Think of a superspecies as a group of related species that evolved from a common ancestor, but live in distinct ranges apart from each other. A good example of a superspecies is the Black-Throated Green Warbler group that includes this species as well as Townsend’s, Hermit, Golden-Cheeked, and Black-Throated Gray Warblers.

Each of the latter four species in the above group is thought to have evolved from its Black-Throated Green ancestor. As this species expanded from its southeastern USA deciduous forest territory into coniferous forest created by the most recent glacial advances, isolation occurred among populations. As generations of separated populations slowly spread west and north throughout lower North America, each population became a divergent “island.” Gene flow ceased as reproductive isolation caused speciation to occur over eons. The resulting five species share various field marks, but also express their own unique characteristics.

Nonetheless, despite their status as species, hybridization sometimes occurs among species within a superspecies, including the Black-Throated Green superspecies wherein populations of Townsend’s and Hermit hybridize in Oregon and Washington. To simplify, where both species occur, over time Townsend’s appear to usually dominate and increase in number.

More technical, the five species within the Black-Throated Green superspecies have parapatric distributions. That is to say, each of the five species has ranges that do not significantly overlap but are immediately adjacent to each other (and/or occur together in a narrow contact zone, with the aforementioned reference to Townsend’s and Hermit Warbler hybridization a scenario where overlapping occurs).

To learn more about this subject, read a classic article by R.M. Mengel titled “The probable history of species formation in some northern wood warblers.” One source where this article appears is in a 1964 edition of “Living Bird” (page 943).

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Warbler Guy, I typically seek rare bird species when I go afield, but it's SO cold now I am doing Project Feederwatch (from my breakfast room). What's its format/method?

Sherry (in New York), feel free to see (from your sunrise perch that looks like this one? (!):



https://feederwatch.org/about/detailed-instructions/#choose-count-days

Feel free to note:

The FeederWatch season always begins the second Saturday in November and runs through the end of April. The 2021–22 FeederWatch season begins on November 13. The last day to start a two-day count at the end of each season is April 29.

We here in Novato (Marin Co., CA....20 miles north of the Golden Gate bridge) have sunflower chips, thistle, and suet that coaxes birds into our view for counting.....Usually, no rare species visit, but we have an occasional Pine Siskin that is NOT rare, but is uncommon except for local abundance (especially among Alder tree groves).....and a Townsend's Warbler has been visiting our suet (NOT a typical behavior....for this non-breeding season visitor).

Meanwhile, enjoy and please feel free to visit my web site to learn about my birding tours that I have hosted for 25+ years: WarblerWatch.com

Regards, Daniel Edelstein

Novato, CA