Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Year in Review: The Warblers (47 species)

[2014 Year in Reivew]

Warblers are rightly said to be our "avian butterflies" and, owing in no small part to their fantastic coloration and unique songs, they attract a fascination disproportionate to their diminutive size.  It remains an unfulfilled personal quest to photograph all of our warbler species within a calendar year; until then, this year's total of 47 will have to do (compare to 48 species in 2013 -- both counts include some Caribbean species).

While 2014's total of 47 is one less than last year's, the mix of species was nonetheless quite noteworthy. Indeed 2014 rewarded this blogger with 4 warbler lifers:  2 observed in Texas (the highly coveted Colima and Golden-cheeked Warblers), 1 in the Caribbean (Green-tailed Warbler) and 1 in Virginia (Swainson's Warbler).

When it comes to venues -- in this blogger's own experience, limited as it may be -- none can surpass the fabled hotspot that is Magee Marsh in Oak Harbor, Ohio. A total of 29 species of wood warbler were photographed at this hallowed venue,  which goes to underscore it status in birding lore as the Warbler Mecca of America. 

If the highly restricted Colima Warbler, however, is on your target list you will have no choice but to travel to Big Bend National Park in Texas. Be forewarned because the sighting will not come easily -- the chance to see one will demand a full measure of toil and sweat over a 10-mile hike high up in the Chisos Mountains. Other notable but far less physically exacting sites visited included the Sanibel Lighthouse, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (both in Southwest Florida) and Port Huron SGA, MI. In the Western Region, Madera Canyon and Mt. Lemmon (both in SE Arizona) are unparalleled.

Without further ado, here's the full list:

Eastern Warblers
  1. American Redstart
  2. Blackburnian Warbler
  3. Baybreasted Warbler
  4. Blackpoll
  5. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  6. Black-throated Green Warbler
  7. Blue-winged Warbler
  8. Black-and-white Warbler
  9. Canada Warbler
  10. Cape May Warbler
  11. Cerulean Warbler
  12. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  13. Common Yellowthroat
  14. Golden-winged Warbler
  15. Hooded Warbler
  16. Kentucky Warbler
  17. Kirtland's Warbler
  18. Louisiana Warbler
  19. Magnolia Warbler
  20. Mourning Warbler
  21. Myrtle Warbler
  22. Northern Parula
  23. Nashville Warbler
  24. Northern Warterthrush
  25. Ovenbird
  26. Palm Warbler
  27. Pine Warbler
  28. Prothonotary Warbler
  29. Prairie Warbler
  30. Swainson's Warbler
  31. Tennessee Warbler
  32. Wilson's Warbler
  33. Yellow-throated Warbler
  34. Yellow Warbler
Caribbean Warblers
  1. Green-tailed Warbler
 Western Warblers
  1. Black-throated Grey Warbler
  2. Colima Warbler
  3. Golden-cheeked Warbler
  4. Grace's Warbler
  5. Lucy's Warbler
  6. McGillivray's Warbler
  7. Orange-crowned Warbler
  8. Olive Warbler
  9. Painted Redstart
  10. Red-faced Warbler
  11. Townsend's Warbler
  12. Yellow-breasted Chat
That makes 47 species in all. What's missing from the list? Hermit, Audubon's, Virginia's, and Tropical Parula from our Western region and Worm-eating and Connecticut Warblers from the Eastern.

We start with the Eastern Warblers:

    American Redstart

Betraying the Old World origins of its name (the original Redstart is an Old World flycatcher; and if you're wondering what a "start" is, it's Old English for "tail"), the American Redstart is a striking warbler:

Seen at Jardin Botanico, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
In Migration @ Magee Marsh

    Blackburnian Warbler

This warbler is a perennial favorite of birders and it excites attention and awe wherever sighted:
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
    Baybreasted Warbler
Eschewing the most common color in warblers (yellow) for earthtones:


Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
    Blackpoll
A long distance champion with orange legs:
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
    Black-throated Blue Warbler
We have only two predominantly blue warblers and this is one of them:
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh

    Black-throated Green Warbler

The "green" in this warbler is found on its back:
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh

    Blue-winged Warbler

Known for its buzzy song, this common warbler is displacing the Golden-winged Warbler where their ranges overlap.


Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Port Huron SGA
    Black-and-white Warbler
Seen in the Bahamas, Ohio, and Florida:
Seen on Grand Bahama Island
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Corkscrew Swamp

    Canada Warbler

A late migrant at Magee, this warbler is much coveted owing to its unique "necklace":
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
    Cape May Warbler
Our only warbler with cinnamon cheeks!
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
    Cerulean Warbler
Featuring at the top of the list as the warbler most birders desire to see, the Cerulean is a sublime warbler whose populations are suffering a sharp decline:


Seen at Algonac State Park
Seen at Algonac State Park
Seen at Algonac State Park
    Chestnut-sided Warbler
A common and somewhat under-rated warbler:
 
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Port Huron SGA
    Common Yellowthroat
Our most widespread warbler:

Seen at Lake St. Clair Metropark
Seen at Lake St. Clair Metropark

    Golden-winged Warbler

Populations are crashing and hybridization with the Blue-winged is a problem for this gorgeous warbler:

Seen at Magee Marsh
    Hooded Warbler
Observed well at both the Sanibel Lighthouse (Florida) as well as Port Huron SGA (Michigan):

Seen at Sanibel Lighthouse
Seen at Port Huron SGA
    Kentucky Warbler
Unlike the preceding year, the Kentucky Warbler was elusive at Magee Marsh but was thankfully sighted in migration at Sanibel Lighthouse:


Seen at Magee Marsh
    Kirtland's Warbler
Saved from the brink of extinction, this is a "must see" warbler for all American birders:
Seen at Grayling
Seen at Grayling
    Louisiana Waterthrush
Having missed it in Spring migration, it was a pleasure to catch this waterthrush on its Fall migration at Corkscrew Swamp:


Seen at Corkscrew
Seen at Corkscrew
  Magnolia Warbler
Magnolias are commonly observed in migration and they did not disappoint at Magee:
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh

      Mourning Warbler

 A notorious skulker, the Mourning Warbler will generally offer only frustratingly short and heavily obstructed views:

Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Port Huron SGA

    Myrtle Warbler
 Commonly observed in migration:
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
     Northern Parula
This tiny warbler bursts with character:
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Corkscrew Samp
    Nashville Warbler
Seen at Magee Marsh
    Northern Warterthrush
Seen at Corkscrew Swamp
Seen at Lake St. Clair
     Ovenbird
 Inclined to terrestrial pursuits, it was a pleasant surprise to see one perched:

Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen in the Bahamas
     Palm Warbler
 In breeding plumage, the russet cap and streaking look quite striking:
 
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
     Pine Warbler

Seen at Port Huron SGA
    Prothonotary Warbler
 The "Golden Swamp" warbler is named for its golden hue:
 
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Magee Marsh
     Prairie Warbler
It is a sporadic breeder in Eastern Michigan:
Seen at Port Huron SGA
      Swainson's Warbler
Although completely unrelated, this is our only warbler that could be mistaken for one of the Old World:
 
Seen at Great Dismal Swamp, VA
      Tennessee Warbler
 Seen in Florida, Ohio and Michigan:

Seen at Lake St. Clair Metorpark
Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Sanibel Lighthouse
     Wilson's Warbler
 Seen in Ohio, Michigan and Arizona:

Seen at Magee Marsh
Seen at Florida Canyon
Seen at Lake St. Clair
      Yellow-throated Warbler
Seen well in Ohio, Florida and the Dominican Republic:
 
Seen at Tigertail Beach
Seen at Magee Marsh
      Yellow Warbler




Caribbean Warblers

    Green-tailed Warbler

A poor shot, but a lifer nonetheless!
 
Seen at Ebano Verde, DR
  Western Warblers

    Black-throated Grey Warbler



Seen at Madera Canyon
    Colima Warbler
A long-standing wish was fulfilled with the sighting of this hard-to-see warbler:
 
Seen at Big Bend NP
Seen at Big Bend NP


    Golden-cheeked Warbler


Another Texas exclusive:
 
Seen at Friedrich Wilderness Park, San Antonio, TX
      Grace's Warbler

Seen at Rose Canyon
Seen at Rose Canyon
     Lucy's Warbler
The tiny Lucy's Warbler is our only dessert warbler:
 
Seen at Sabino Canyon

    McGillivray's Warbler
The "Western version" of Mourning Warbler but with distinctive eye-crescents:

Seen at Florida Canyon
Seen at Florida Canyon
    Orange-crowned Warbler
A humble but widespread warbler:

Seen at Bear Wallow
    Olive Warbler
Has one of the loudest songs of any warbler:
 
Seen at Bear Wallow

    Painted Redstart
Technically a "white start" as there is only white in its tail:

Seen at Madera Canyon

    Red-faced Warbler
The "Holy Grail" of Western warblers:
 
Seen at Bear Wallow
Seen at Bear Wallow
     Townsend's Warbler

Seen at Madera Canyon

    Yellow-breasted Chat
The most "unwarbler" warbler:

Seen at Big Bend NP