A Rocky Warbler

Welcome to March everyone! Always a weird feeling when another month is torn off the calendar. A variety of emotions and feelings seems to collide at once. First a slight wave of panic comes over me as I realize that the quota counter resets back to zero and I have to start thinking about at least 6 new topics worth the time my readers generously give me. Soon after that a major concern washes over as I quickly compute the days left before the summer’s planned 50K running event. Then a major swing to the positive as the thoughts of spring make their way in bring a big smile with the excitement of getting back out in the field for the early migration. Of course, it always ends with the sobering “WHERE THE HELL DID THAT LAST MONTH GO!?!” I like to keep myself very busy and have a to-do list that probably rivals small novels in paper thickness – hate to leave this world without getting the very most out of it. While I try to figure out how to squeeze a few more minutes out of the day, figured I’d put out a quick post on a pretty cool looking bird. Before I do that though, wanted to give a shout out to Brian over at Butterflies to Dragsters (link here) who just celebrated his second year of blogging! Those of us with our own blogs know very well the work that goes into them and Brian has been putting up some amazing stuff from his outings across the pond. Check him out and wish him a happy anniversary, you will not be disappointed.

Decided to go with a quick post today from a shoot back in May of 2014 – I know, I know, I’m waaaay behind, but these calendar pages keep flying off the walls.

Wilson's Warbler found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014\

Hit the jump to see a few more picture of this very distinct Warbler.

If I remember correctly (wow, it’s been almost 5 years now), we were out in Denver for the Teacup Dog Agility Nationals. Linda was running our toy Poodles. We decided to add a few extra vacation days to the trip being that it was a ways from home and we were driving due to the dogs anyway. One of the locations we decided to visit was the Rocky Mountain National Park. One of my nemesis birds (along with the Red Cockaded Woodpecker and of course the Puffin which my brothers enjoy teasing me about) is the White-Tailed Ptarmigan. This bird prefers high elevations including above the treeline in the Rockies (10,000ft and up). I’ve been up there multiple times now and each time hiked up to dizzying altitudes only to come back with an empty tin. It is hard enough carrying the Beast close to sea level let alone at that elevation – reason number 2,136 why I spend so many hours in the gym and pounding the road. One of these days I’m going to get that bird – feel free to get in our bet as to whether Ron gets a Snowy Owl before I get the Ptarmigan (hint, bet on me, Ron hates birding in the cold).

Wilson's Warbler found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

Even missing the target bird (multiple times) it is still hard to be too down with the journey. The Rockies are beautiful country and there is plenty of other wildlife to spend your time with. Take for instance this Wilson’s Warbler. Looks rather dapper with its yellow threads and black cap. This specimen was busy going back and forth between the denser trees and the forest edge causing me to quickly play with the settings to try and compensate. The darker shots show a nice contrast, but the overall coloring of the bird ended up slightly more subdued than they really are. Still think a bit better than the first time this species showed up on this blog (link here). To appease Ron, adding in some additional angles to give a full feel for the bird. Here is the side and undertail which carries the same yellow hue throughout (also in a lighter setting).

Wilson's Warbler found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

The Wilson’s is one of those birds you should have easy access to if you live anywhere in North America or down into Central America. They pretty much have it all covered at some point during the year. They prefer to breed in Canada and a few sparse places like the Rockies and then migrate through the continental US to spend their winter months in Central America working on their beach bods while sipping drinks with little umbrellas. They are one of the smallest Warblers in the US and one of the most energetic being constantly on the move to find food or show off its fast and fairly high pitched song to their mates. Hyper birds are not a good mix for the Beast. After spending some time trying to get these flying bananas in the tin the arms start screaming.

Might as well give the remaining angle for your viewing pleasure

Wilson's Warbler found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

The end ha!

Hope you enjoyed spending some more time with Mr. Wilson’s, one cute Warbler.

10 thoughts on “A Rocky Warbler”

  1. Thanks for the nod B, I almost blushed! Onto the post. That is a super smart Warbler and I feel your pain when trying to get images of hyper-birds, and my lens is a mere fraction the weight of the creature you lug around! So brilliant result now how about a Blackburnian? (my fantasy bird!) (used to be Raquel Welch but age takes it’s toll)

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    1. Sure! I believe I have a Blackburnian thanks to a trip up to Montrose with Ron a year or so back. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly, it was in its drab clothing so a bit of a disappointment beyond at least getting the count. I assume you want the ornate plumage – will put that on my list to go after this spring. If I find it, I’ll mail you one (now worries, I’ll put holes in the box).

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  2. Very pretty shots of this bird! The Rockies may be a better place to observe them than in Illinois, as per Cornell: “Wilson’s Warblers tend to be brighter yellow in the West and paler yellow in the East. Pacific Coast populations have the brightest yellow, almost orange, foreheads and faces. Rocky Mountain and Alaskan birds also tend to be slightly larger than the Eastern and Pacific Coast populations.”

    Also, I remembered that Wilson’s Snipes were named after the same person, Alexander Wilson, so I just looked him up. He was a Scottish immigrant who was the first real American ornithologist. His nine-volume “American Ornithology” illustrating 268 species of birds was published in 1814, thirty years before Audubon’s “Birds of America”. In fact, there are five birds named after him: Wilson’s Warbler, Wilson’s Snipe and Wilson’s Phalarope, all of which we have pictures of, and Wilson’s Plover and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel that I don’t believe either of us has pictures of. Here’s a nice article on him: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/the-people-behind-the-birds-named-for-people-alexander-wilson/

    Anyway, these are great shots, and from all angles (I was waiting for that last one).


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    1. Never made the connection to all those Wilson’s birds – just went right past me. So, since there is such structural and feathering differences between the regional Warblers can I go ahead and just count them as separate species since I have a Rockies, a Texas and an Illinois version? that Storm-Petrel is really cool – think Hayward got one of these on his boat trips. Looks like we are really going to have to work to get one of those in the tin. I will have to go back and look for the Wilson’s Plover in my backlog of shots from Texas – I might have mistaken one for a Killdeer, but it says they are all along the coastline where I’ve been several times…. that would be a good add if I can find one hehehehe. Thanks for the additional post information, appreciate it.


      1. umm, no, you can’t count the subspecies as separate checks on your birding list! I do hope you find a Wilson’s Plover, though–look for that oversized bill! I’m going to look through my Fort Myers bird pictures again for it. I don’t believe I will ever get a storm-petrel as I’m never going on a pelagic because I would be way too seasick…

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  3. So I read that is any birds I get on a pelagic outing are guaranteed non-recoverable gaps between us …. good to know… Honey, feel like taking a cruise?


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