Warblers are some of the smallest of the avian species that are extremely beautiful and exhibit a range of stunning colors in their plumage. These are very active birds found throughout the continent and are one of the first to migrate during Fall and Spring. Spotting them in dense foliage can be quite a challenge and when I spot them, it is indeed a moment of exhilaration. At first it used to be quite daunting to set my sights focused on these birds and photograph them rapidly, for they are quite agile and dart quickly from one branch to another. But over time I have learnt to be more patient and capture them with my lens while simultaneously trying to identify them. Commonly known as wood warblers that are classified in the Parulidae family, there are more than 50 species of warblers found in North America.
Typically warblers are roughly about the size of a common house sparrow and usually have a pointed bill. One of the most common species is the Yellow rumped warbler which seems to be posing in this picture above on an early Spring day. The arrival of yellow rumped warbler heralds the advent of Spring and is indeed something I look forward to every year as the seasons turn.
This Yellow warbler pictured on the left was in full view singing away to glory in mid-May when it had set down roots on the banks of a creek and was nesting with its better half. The brown striations on its breast and the overall yellow color make it easy to identify this pretty bird.
Yet another bright golden-yellow colored warbler that is a sheer beauty is the Prothonotary warbler (that’s a mouthful) which typically nests along rivers and ponds in hollow tree trunks. On an early summer morning while I was birding, this one flew past me and settled down on a branch and began to sing wonderfully. That was a priceless Kodak moment! Prothonotary warblers also tend to hop on the ground in search of food, and so paying attention to a warbler’s habitat can aid in its identification.
The warbler on the left is a Magnolia warbler and is usually found foraging in the lower branches. In this case it was well hidden and barely appeared a couple of times for me to quickly press the shutter on my camera. Contrary to what birding experts say, when it comes to warblers I tend to shoot first and ask questions later! A bird in my lens is worth two in the bush that are hidden from sight!
And here we have a Bay-poll warbler enjoying a fruit snack on a warm Fall afternoon. Warblers typically dine on insects and fruits, although some do feast on worms. This serene and composed Palm warbler shown below seemed to be relaxing and was in no hurry as I was clicking. Notice the yellow patch on the bird and the white streak above its eye, which are both distinguishing marks of a palm warbler.
All the pictures shown here were taken in habitats in Indiana during Fall and Spring migration, except the palm warbler which was spotted in Everglades, Florida. This post is just a glimpse into the world of warblers, those tiny species that form a small subset of the tens of thousands of bird species, that are out there in Nature for all of us to enjoy.
The words of Robert Frost come to mind,
In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift