After a thunderstorm, birds

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Black-and-white Warbler was one of a mixed flock of presumably migrating warblers that arrived in our neighborhood big trees yesterday afternoon after strong thunderstorms and even a tornado warning in central Martin County.

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They remind me of nuthatches or creepers the way they spiral around and up and down trees, searching for insects in the bark.

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Audubon Field Guide: Black-and-white Warbler

This bird is often a favorite warbler for beginning birders, because it is easy to see and easy to recognize. It was once known as the “Black-and-white Creeper,” a name that describes its behavior quite well. Like a nuthatch or creeper (and unlike other warblers), it climbs about on the trunks and major limbs of trees, seeking insects in the bark crevices.

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Northern Cardinal stopped by to see what all the fuss was about.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

The Black-and-white Warbler is the only member of the genus Mniotilta. The genus name means “moss-plucking,” a reference to its habit of probing bark and moss for insects.

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These birds are boldly striped in black and white. Their black wings are highlighted by two wide, white wing bars. Adult males have more obvious black streaking, particularly on the underparts and the cheek. Females (especially immatures) are paler, with less streaking and usually a wash of buff on the flanks. The undertail coverts have distinctive large black spots.

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Black-and-white Warblers typically use deciduous forests and mixed forests of deciduous trees and conifers. They can be found in many habitats during migration, especially woodlots and forests in riparian settings. On their tropical wintering grounds Black-and-white Warblers use an immense range of habitats, including lawns, gardens, and other urban settings, fruit orchards, shade-coffee plantations, wetlands, mangroves, and all types of forests.

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I was able to get quite a few decent photos. They move a lot, but a little slower than other warblers, with more hopping than flying.

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Black-and-white Warblers eat mostly insects. Moth and butterfly larvae form the bulk of their diet during spring migration and throughout the breeding season. Other arthropod prey includes ants, flies, spiders, click and leaf beetles, wood-borers, leafhoppers, and weevils.

Tidy up that tree for us, thanks!

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Also close by the Black-and-whites were a few American Redstarts. Harder to get photos of them!

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Now that is not a bird I see every day! Must get out with my camera this morning and see what else is in town.

Not a lot bigger than a gnat

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in an orange tree, spied from along River Road in south Sewall’s Point.

First time I’ve seen one of these tiny fellows. I got ID help on the Facebook page What’s This Bird.

A tiny, long-tailed bird of broadleaf forests and scrublands, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher makes itself known by its soft but insistent calls and its constant motion. It hops and sidles in dense outer foliage, foraging for insects and spiders. As it moves, this steely blue-gray bird conspicuously flicks its white-edged tail from side to side, scaring up insects and chasing after them.

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A Black-and-white Warbler was nearby.

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And a few Yellow-rumped Warblers were in the neighborhood too.

All of these little insect-eating birds are winter residents, in town for “the season.”

What’s black-and-white and blogged all over?

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Many Black-and-white Warblers in Sewall’s Point today!

I took a three-mile walk through the neighborhood with my camera and spotted these little birds in groups of three or more (probably many more, but they are small and hard to see) in seven or eight different large live oak and banyan trees.

I haven’t noticed them here before today, though the map shows that Florida is one of the places they winter… along with the Caribbean, Central and South America.

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I see from my blog archives that they were in our New Hampshire woods last year on May 9 and again with a bunch of other warblers on May 14. Reading the old posts makes me a bit nostalgic for our old home.

I suspect the birds I saw today are migrating north. Just like some of the snowbirds I talked to this morning at the dog park. I will be flying north in May to visit my daughters. I miss them!

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One of the earliest-arriving migrant warblers, the Black-and-white Warbler’s thin, squeaky song is one of the first signs that spring birding has sprung. This crisply striped bundle of black and white feathers creeps along tree trunks and branches like a nimble nuthatch, probing the bark for insects with its slightly downcurved bill.

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One of the big trees in our Tree City USA. Great places for insects and birds.

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It’s been a dry winter, which I guess is pretty typical for Florida with it’s wet/ dry season climate. But after the big rain on Sunday I’ve noticed more flying (biting) insects in the past couple of days. Are these bug-eating warblers following the bug bloom north?

Warblers abound

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Black-and-white Warbler, in the maple tree right off our back deck.

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Good morning, Common Yellowthroat.

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The male Common Yellowthroat has a black mask, the little bandido bug eater.

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Witchety, witchety, he says.

I saw three males near each other in the underbrush out by our pond this morning. I can hear even more out in the wet woods. A female spotted yesterday in the same area. I suspect some will migrate through and two or three pairs will stay around to nest.

Got some cute photos of an almost- fledgling last summer.

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Rain last night in the perfect amount. Sunny day ahead. Wild blueberries are blossoming.

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Walking the dog out past the pond around 7:15 a.m. I spotted a yellow bird flitting from branch to branch up high in a cherry tree. Distinctive song.

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It’s a Yellow Warbler.

I saw one for the first time last May on a birding trip offshore to Star Island, among the Isles of Shoals. (Here’s a Flickr photo album from that trip.)

This Yellow Warbler counts now as a Backyard Bird on my sidebar… number 48.

Males sing a sweet series of 6–10 whistled notes that accelerate over the course of the roughly 1-second song and often end on a rising note. The tone is so sweet that people often remember it with the mnemonic sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet. The songs are a common sound of spring and early summer mornings and may be repeated as often as 10 times per minute.

8:50 a.m. BONUS

Just got some photos of an American Redstart in the woods next to our house! I saw two but heard more.

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A lively warbler that hops among tree branches in search of insects, the male American Redstart is coal-black with vivid orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. True to its Halloween-themed color scheme, the redstart seems to startle its prey out of the foliage by flashing its strikingly patterned tail and wing feathers.

A stripey warbler

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Black-and-white Warbler!

My daughter and I spotted three this morning, where the red pine woods meet the red maple swamp. They were circling up and down tree trunks like nuthatches.

One of the earliest-arriving migrant warblers, the Black-and-white Warbler’s thin, squeaky song is one of the first signs that spring birding has sprung. This crisply striped bundle of black and white feathers creeps along tree trunks and branches like a nimble nuthatch, probing the bark for insects with its slightly downcurved bill.