Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall Warblers

The stars of this weekend's birding trip were warblers.  We did not see a lot of them, but we managed to see and identify five species overall.  The emphasis here is on "identify" because warblers in the fall are wearing their drab plumage (protective coloration for the winter) and the species look much plainer and more alike than they do in the spring (dressed up for mating season).  Peterson's field guide has a special section devoted to the field marks of these "confusing fall warblers."

But as far as fall warblers go, the ones we saw were relatively non-confusing.

We saw a Canada warbler at two different times, with Robert and me getting very good looks at the birds and not questioning its identification.  When Robert was updating our bird spreadsheet when we got home, he said, "So how confident do you feel about the Canada warbler?"  I asked, "Why, is it not supposed to be here?", and he said, "Because we usually apply a higher confidence threshold when identifying a life bird."  I said, "But the Canada isn't a life bird, is it?!"  Not until I saw the big empty space next to Canada warbler in my birder's journal did I fully believe it.  We've been looking for the Canada warbler ever since we moved up here (for example, our weekend trip up north this summer was in great part to find the Canada where it nests) and have checked so many warblers against the Canada in the book that when we finally did see it, it just looked clearly like a Canada warbler.  Even in its fall plumage, that gray/black necklace is still noticeable and distinctive.

Photo from McGill Observatory's excellent photo library

Our warblers:

Common yellowthroat
Wilson's warbler (our first state record)
Black and white warbler
Orange-crowned warbler (our first state record)
Canada warbler - Life bird #480

So, two weekends, two life birds.  Life is good.

1 comment:

mom said...

The Canada warbler is a pretty bird. I wish I could have seen it. One less bird to see before you reach 500!