Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Four Warblers and a Sparrow

Pheasant Branch Conservancy (prairie parcel)

Things are quieting down migration-wise along the creek corridor, so yesterday morning I decided to return to the prairie parcel for sparrows. The color of the prairie is stunning this time of year. I love the purple aster accents mixed in with green and yellow plants and grass. The weather was crisp with excellent lighting for photography. I made my way to the east side of the drumlin so I would have the sun on my back as I explored the edge habitat for birds. It was a perfect early fall day.

Nashville Warbler

As I made my way down the trail, I was pleasantly surprised to find a small mixed flock of wood warblers foraging low in the thicket. There were Common Yellowthroats, Palm, Nashville, and Tennessee Warblers, plus even a Northern Parula was down low, which is something I don't usually see. As the small warbler parade went by, I did my best to digiscope them.

Northern Parula

Tennessee Warbler

Preening Common Yellowthroat

This young male Common Yellowthroat spent several minutes preening his feathers. Though essential behavior for good feather health, I always find it somewhat comical to watch. This warbler will probably stick around for a week or so yet, but eventually his instinctual restlessness to move on will push him southward. It's a long and arduous journey, full of potential perils and challenges. I have every confidence in this little bird that he'll be back at the conservancy next spring. Common Yellowthroats are one of the most abundant North American wood warblers and shouldn't be disparaged for their evolutionary success!

Common Yellothroat

Fall is the best time to get excellent views of Lincoln's Sparrows. When I do encounter them during spring migration, it's usually only by their song. They're fairly abundant at the prairie right now and will be throughout much of October. For me, the neat plumage pattern of the Lincoln's Sparrow is unmistakable, but some birders occasionally get tripped up by Swamp and Song Sparrows. With practice, though, sparrow identification can be a breeze.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Sep 23, 2013 7:00 AM - 9:15 AM
52 species 

Canada Goose 
Wood Duck 
Ring-necked Pheasant 
Cooper's Hawk 
Sandhill Crane 
Ring-billed Gull 
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove 
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker 
Downy Woodpecker 
Hairy Woodpecker 
Northern Flicker 
Eastern Phoebe 
Blue Jay 
American Crow 
Horned Lark 
Barn Swallow 
Black-capped Chickadee 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
House Wren 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
Eastern Bluebird 
Swainson's Thrush 
American Robin 
Gray Catbird 
Brown Thrasher 
European Starling 
Cedar Waxwing 
Tennessee Warbler 
Nashville Warbler 
Common Yellowthroat 
Northern Parula 
Palm Warbler 
Yellow-rumped Warbler 
Chipping Sparrow 
Field Sparrow 
Savannah Sparrow 
Song Sparrow 
Lincoln's Sparrow 
Swamp Sparrow 
White-throated Sparrow 
White-crowned Sparrow 
Northern Cardinal 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
Indigo Bunting 
Red-winged Blackbird 
Eastern Meadowlark 
House Finch 
American Goldfinch 
House Sparrow

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell