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Science & NatureWhat is That?What Is that … Warbler?

What Is that … Warbler?


Before we bought our cottage on Three Mile Bay, White Lake, we thought we knew something about birds.  We remember learning about robins, warblers, sparrows and hawks, but not until we started to try to photograph and identify the birds at the cottage did we realize how many different species we were seeing. Even the robin we commonly see from our cottage deck is the American robin as opposed to the European robin.  But the warblers, oh the warblers!  Sibley describes 46 species of warbler in eastern North America, of which we have seen and photographed ten here at the cottage.  That is not to say we have good photographs of all ten.  Our warblers are camera shy.

We first documented the common yellowthroat warbler in 2015.  Finally, this year we were able to snap (what we think are) good pictures of the common yellowthroat male.  They are small, stocky, short-necked birds which prefer marshy areas which we have in spades just to the north of us.  Found throughout much of the United States and the southern reaches of all our provinces, the common yellowthroat warbler winters in Mexico and further south. The male is striking with its black mask.

The chestnut-sided warbler made itself known to us in 2016.  This beautiful warbler was once considered rare but it has expanded its range greatly over the past 100 years as, according to Earley, it prefers second growth forests of which we have more and more, following extensive deforestation in the early 20th century.  We could not resist including two photographs of the male, the first giving a side-view which is good for identification showing the male’s black eyeline and black moustache as well as its yellow crown and white throat.  The second photograph of the male makes us smile as the head-on view gives it a decidedly grumpy appearance.

The female chestnut-sided warbler’s colouring is subdued compared with the male. Her eyeline, moustache and chestnut sides are dull and truncated.  But is she not pretty?

The next three warblers are less well-known to us, but nevertheless we know they are here at the cottage.  We first photographed the black-throated green warbler in 2016.  These warblers nest in the coniferous and mixed woodlands which surround us here at the cottage.  As with the other warblers they feed on insects and berries.  As we have mentioned before, we love all birds that eat insects.  We were delighted to capture the following photograph of the male just last month.

The black and white warbler also nests in relatively mature deciduous or mixed forests.  Nuthatch-like, they forage for insects in the bark of trees.  The following photograph of the south end of this warbler going north just makes us smile and we thought you might enjoy it too.

Finally, we have a warbler which does not have the word ‘warbler’ in its name.  The ovenbird is found mainly at ground level in mixed forests where they build their miniature oven-shaped nests.  We were delighted to capture this photograph on August 29th of this year.

For this article we used Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies; Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America; Domm’s Lorimer Field Guide to 225 Ontario Birds; and of course, Chris Earley’s Warblers of the Great Lakes Region & Eastern North America.




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