Tag Archives: Cape May Warbler

Sunset warblers

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Warblers persist. This one is a female Cape May. I know that thanks to the help of members of What’s This Bird on Facebook.

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Setting sun, leafless tree, warbler holding still… perfect conditions for the amateur photographer with a not-very-expensive superzoom camera.

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Here’s a new warbler for me, a Blackpoll.

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Males get a jaunty black cap in breeding season.

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There’s something very special about these warblers

Blackpoll Warblers are long-distance athletes and they hold the record for the longest overwater flight for a songbird. During the fall, these half-ounce warblers fly nonstop for up to 3 days, covering on average over 1,800 miles over the Atlantic Ocean to reach their wintering grounds in Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles, and northern South America. Such a journey requires that they eat enough before they leave to double their body mass.

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And here’s another female Cape May, practically glowing in the warm sunset of spring in Florida.

When the warblers were in town

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Wednesday morning I went out with my camera to see if the warblers that stopped over after the storms on Tuesday were still here. First, a cardinal in our driveway reminded me that resident birds are special too.

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Mourning dove on a morning walk through leaf litter.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker was dipping his beak into a giant white bird-of-paradise flower… for a drink of water? for insects?

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Black-throated Blue Warbler, a bird-photo first for me!

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A uniquely colored, midnight-blue bird of tangled understories, the male Black-throated Blue Warbler sings a relaxed, buzzy I-am-so-la-zee on warm summer days in Eastern hardwood forests. He’s aptly named, with a midnight blue back, sharp white belly, and black throat. The olive-brown females, while not as dramatically marked as the males, have a unique white square on the wing that readily separates them from other female warblers. This warbler breeds in the East and spends the winter in the Caribbean.

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Black-throated Blue in morning sun. Oh, you beauty.

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Another resident made an appearance on our fence, a Carolina Wren.

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In the banyan, a flash of color that can only be an American Redstart.

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Strike a redstart pose.

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Northern Parula, also a photo first for me.

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An acrobat.

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A small warbler of the upper canopy, the Northern Parula flutters at the edges of branches plucking insects. This bluish gray warbler with yellow highlights breeds in forests laden with Spanish moss or beard lichens, from Florida to the boreal forest, and it’s sure to give you “warbler neck.” It hops through branches bursting with a rising buzzy trill that pinches off at the end. Its white eye crescents, chestnut breast band, and yellow-green patch on the back set it apart from other warblers.

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I think this is a female or immature male Cape May Warbler.

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A few blocks from home, this big tree, banyan or strangler fig, was full of warblers.

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Northern Parula.

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  • Before this species received the name Northern Parula (a diminutive form of parus, meaning little titmouse), Mark Catesby, an English naturalist, called it a “finch creeper” and John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson called it a “blue yellow-backed warbler.”

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This Cape May Warbler was a bit disheveled. Molting?

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Like a teenager who just rolled out of bed.

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Northern Parula-palooza.

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Cape May.

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N.P.

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Cape May in a magnolia.

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Another Black-throated Blue Warbler.

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B-t B.

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That was a fine hour of bird watching.

Warblers and tanager in town

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When I saw these little birds a couple of blocks from home last night, I went back and got my camera.

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Warblers, I guessed, stopping in delicious Sewall’s Point on their way north. Delicious because we have lots of mature vegetation, fruiting and flowering trees and shrubs, and tasty little bugs.

Feed the birds… with habitat!

At home I reviewed the pics and decided these were Cape May Warblers, a first for me!

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This one is a female. There were four birds in this tree, flying out now and then to nab a tiny insect.

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Setophaga tigrina, their name means “moth-eating tiger-striped.”

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The Cape May Warbler breeds across the boreal forest of Canada and the northern United States, where the fortunes of its populations are largely tied to the availability of spruce budworms, its preferred food. Striking in appearance but poorly understood, the species spends its winters in the West Indies, collecting nectar with its unique curled, semitubular tongue.

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A little further north on River Road, I spotted a red bird near the top of a fruiting tree (ficus?) It was not a cardinal.

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Photos not great, but good enough to post on the Facebook group “What’s This Bird” and get an ID: a male Summer Tanager, his plumage changing from non-breeding to breeding colors. Also a first for me, what an evening!

The only completely red bird in North America, the strawberry-colored male Summer Tanager is an eye-catching sight against the green leaves of the forest canopy. The mustard-yellow female is harder to spot, though both sexes have a very distinctive chuckling call note. Fairly common during the summer, these birds migrate as far as the middle of South America each winter. All year long they specialize in catching bees and wasps on the wing, somehow avoiding being stung by their catches.

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Summer Tanagers specialize on bees and wasps on both their breeding and wintering ranges. They also eat other aerial and terrestrial invertebrates—such as spiders, cicadas, beetles, ants, termites, grasshoppers, flies, moths, and bugs—as well as fruits such as mulberries, blackberries, pokeweed, Cecropia, citrus, and bananas. They capture flying insects during short sallies, carrying their prey back and beating it repeatedly against the perch. They glean terrestrial insects from the leaves and bark of trees and shrubs. To harvest fruit, they may hover and pluck individual fruits, or glean from a perched position.

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That red color in the setting sun! There were a few Cape Mays in this tree too.

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I should have flicked over from autofocus to manual focus, but I was so worried it would fly off while I looked down.

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Soon this bird will be red all over.

These are my 84th and 85th Florida birds and 63rd and 64th 2018 birds.