Sunday, February 27, 2011

Birds in Review Part XX 'A Bird Parade' Yellow-rumped Warbler Plus One

While it is snowing out in my real world, I will turn back the pages of days, towards early spring and share another dear warbler that chooses to return each year to the gardens, fields and forest here. Every new spring day brings about more unfurling green and added bird songs . . . so much that it becomes like a symphony of warbles over the shrubs and trees and a challenge to single out and identify each one. It helps to catch a flash of color . . . a combination of marks that speak to a recognizable form. I can sometimes quickly recall a songbird, when seeing it flitter within the Viburnums or Hawthorne trees, such as the beautiful Yellow-rumped Warbler pictured here. The yellow markings are the most obvious clues. 

One interesting fact about Yellow-rumped Warblers (Dendroica coronata) is that they have a unique ability to digest the waxy coated fruit of bayberries (Myrica spp..) This gastrointestinal trait allows them to expand their wintering sites along the shores in Massachusetts, perhaps into Maine and further north in much of these United States, than one would expect to ever see a warbler in winter. You may even see them at your suet feeders. Formerly known as Myrtle warblers, now I fear too often called merely 'Yellow-rump', they will spend all of autumn, winter and very early spring feasting on bayberries. During most of the spring and summer months they are seen gleaning trees and shrubs for insects. 

Look carefully towards the center of the Viburnum. Do you see what I see? 

Though too far away to get a crisp portrait, I love this pastel-like image of the little masked Yellow-rumped Warbler. His markings are so striking in the spring and summer months. The dotted dabs of yellow plumage join together to form a perfect triangle. 

I wish I could insert a recording of the Yellow-rumped Warblers melodious trills right here.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

This capture portrays a bit of a bandit feeling and you can see how the Yellow-rumped Warbler can at a glance, sometimes be mistaken as the beautiful Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia) below.

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Yellow, black and white feathers are seen in both the masked Magnolia and Yellow-rumped Warblers, but they are fashioned together, so to speak, in quite different ways. The stroke of white above and below the masked eyes can at first fool the observer. I am glad I had my camera nearby, when sighting this pretty male songbird, for it was the only time I have been lucky to catch a glimpse of a Magnolia Warbler. 
There is more to come in tones of yellows in the continuing 'Bird Parade.'

Meanwhile . . . 

Winter is still very much with us here in New England.

Robins, Cedar Waxwings and Chickadees are the only birds I have truly sighted today. I have not seen the Bluebirds or Titmice in a few days now. 
It is a great escape from the snow and ice, to look back over spring and summer photographs, finding the images I am sharing throughout my Bird Series posts. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Birds in Review Part XIX 'A Bird Parade' Common Yellowthroat

Spring showers us with a profusion of petals, tepals and sepals, as well as scores of tweets and twitters of slight silvery songbirds. 
Many birds can live up to fifteen years or more and often return to the same favored nesting grounds. It is very likely then, that many of the songbirds who raise their young here, in the gardens, fields and forest of Flower Hill Farm, are 'coming home' each spring, to their habitat of choice. 

I so look forward to this recurring ritual and when I begin to hear the chirruping and chirring in the shrubberies and trees, my heart truly races with my mind to recall the face and colorful markings that matches each trilling. Around 1766 Carl Linnaeus gave the name Geothlypis trichas Common Yellowthroat Warbler, to this little masked bird. When I hear its " wich-i-ty, wich-i-ity, wich-i-ity," I run for my camera and try to find this flighty tiny warbler. 

I will not usually look high in the trees, for the Common Yellowthroat prefers flitting and nesting about in the lower areas of the open fields and gardens. I might see them on the bottom branches of shrubs, such as blueberries, or in amongst plants, brush or briars. I have never seen their nests, which are small cups within tufts of grass or plants, very near or on the ground. These boldly patterned warblers are mostly insectivores, busily gleaning shrubberies and plants and occasionally finding seeds to their liking. They would sooner be near wetland and water, thus must enjoy the several seasonal streams and a solitary spring hidden within the forest here.

They can be very shy! Do you see an eye?

The only thing common about this warbler is that it is known to nest all throughout Canada, the United States and even into northern Mexico, while wintering across the southern United States, Northern South America and the West Indies. There are at least nine other species of Yellowthroats found mostly in Mexico.

Female Common Yellowthroat

The male helps to rear his young. 
Cowbirds and loss of habitat are a threat, but there is at present no real concern for the Common Yellowthroat.

Sweet peeps let him know where to find his fledgling.

Both parents work hard all day, finding morsels of food. 

Papa can relax a bit now and then. 

This delightful, beneficial bird needs a special habitat, so do consider caring wisely for land and wildlife. There is a frightening loss of habitat each day and everything we do to rebuild native, natural surroundings will help all wildlife, most especially our feathered friends.  
Gail over at Clay and Limestone is a great champion for all things wild. Today she invites you to share Wildflower Wednesday. I hope you have time to take a walk on the wild side. You will be glad for the visit!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birds in Review Part XVIII 'A Bird Parade'

Bohemian Waxwings

The Great Backyard Bird Count continues through tomorrow. Yesterday we had horrific winds and every respectable bird was hidden somewhere safe. Today was bright and without
the howling Boreas or north winds, I  did count many Cedar
 Waxwings and Robins in the Crabapple Orchard.

Cedar Waxwings

Above is a portrait of a Robin singing in the Spring . . .  then another below seemingly of a surly disposition. 

Perhaps his scowling expression has more to do with defending his nesting area, for I was close to the Apple tree where later a nest was built. I do think the light paints both of these photographs with a drop of magic. 

I have not seen the Cardinals in many days, for last summer's drought prevented the Rosa rugosa from producing many rose hips. 

This will be interesting for the bird count, for they are usually here every day during the winter months. It will show from my last years list that they are missing.

I have seen two pairs of Chickadees however.

I love this spring shot showing a male singing his tiny heart out. 

I have counted two Titmice! These images from last year are to me very dear.

The image above and below were taken today. Those little black dotted eyes look towards me, as if to say . . . Well what do you have for me please? 

The Bluebirds checked in today, as well, and I can add five to my list so far. 

This is the first posting of my 'Bird Parade' . . .  a list in images of the birds photographed here in my wildlife habitat and gardens over the last two years. I am digging through my archives to line them all up in a colorful procession.

The processions of night and day . . . moon and sun . . .  continue across the sky above Flower Hill Farm. February full moon is seen here rising over Carey Hill. I long to paint a sky so beautiful. 

Next morning sunrise, painting a rose gouache wash above the Mount Holyoke Range.

A welcome spell of warmer days did eat the winter cake, not leaving a snow crumb behind. I cannot be certain another cake will not be created, before this winter is through with us. 
My bird parade will take me back into spring, summer and fall which will help brighten the coming chilling cold days. 
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