Doing my best to stay on top of the posts this month. Although this month seems to be gobbling up time faster than Ms. Pac-man on a pellet run, next month is going to be downright ugly. That is when the heavy Halloween Trail lifting begins. So much still to do on this year’s new prop additions. Linda isn’t too pleased about the condition of the basement at the moment – there are at least 5 projects in various stages down there, not to mention my den has another 2 servo based props that are driving me absolutely crazy thanks to either a wiring glitch or an erratic software demon. Bad flashbacks to those sleepless system troubleshooting days with the tiny sign in my office. “A repeatable problem is easily solved”. Those living an IT life already know this, it’s the random shit that’s a pain in the ass. Luckily for me, Ron is coming down next weekend to lend a hand..oh and we are attending a birding event with the local Ornithological Chapter. Speaking of which, how about we get to the real reason you are here.. the pretty birds!
Hit the jump to learn more about our flamboyantly colored bird.
Per that mighty Texas trio.
“And when I asked her what she wanted
And this is what she had to say
A [black] pearl necklace
She wanted [his black] pearl necklace.”
Before I go further, I do know what that referenced song is about (one of our good friends used to sing that song out loud from time to time until her husband politely informed her … embarrassed, she never sung it again hehehehe). Unfortunately, that song has been swirling in my head since the day Ron and I encountered this Canada Warbler. The good thing is, my insertions nullify the original context ha!
As you can see, this Warbler’s necklace is the primary feature of this particular Warbler. That black necklace against the brilliant yellow neck and chest makes this one of the more easily recognizable New World birds…at least when it comes to the males. As is often the case, the females get short changed on the fancy adornments. They have a duller gray back compared to the deep slate grey of their counterpart. They do have a necklace of their own, but it is very faint and can be easily missed depending on what angle you happen to get or how fluffed their neck feathers are. They also lack the bold amount of black on the face which I think really completes the male’s dapper look.
Rounding out the coloring, both display a very pronounced white eye-ring that Cornell notes looks like they are wearing goggles. All in all, I’d say the males are a pretty distinctive bird and should be easily identifiable in the field – only problem is, from my experience, they are harder to find than a trustworthy politician – quite ironic given where Ron and I happened to find this specimen – CHICAGO.
We had made a trip to Montrose Beach Bird Sanctuary earlier in the day to tin some birds that had been reported up there and still needed for our Average Year (link here). You may recall, we were able to check off the Bank Swallow (link here), the Philadelphia Vireo (link here) and the Blackburnian Warbler (link here) – a fine day already, but then Ron recommended we check out LaBagh Woods Forest Preserve. This was a new place for me and I must say, I was completely impressed. Located on Cicero Avenue, this preserve has a range of habitats from marsh, to hardwood forest and river/stream settings. They could make some improvements on their trails closer to the parking lot – lot of downed debris and for some unexplained reason think people want to hop from stump to stump on large swaths of their lowland paths. Maybe it floods, but when it is dry, that is not something I want to do with The Beast in hand.
Once we made it past that portion, we made our way up a steep bank to a bridge that took us to the other side of a stream. Our disappointment at the initial lack of birds quickly faded – seemed liked birds were everywhere! Downies, Red Bellies, Red-Headed and Hairy WPs were in full hammer mode, while Orioles, Towhees, Robins and Catbirds held their own tryouts for The Voice. I can’t remember if Ron actually saw the Canada Warbler or heard its sweet series of high pitched notes, in either case, he gets full credit for spotting this specimen – actually turns out there were two of these in the area which solved the mystery as to why we were miming a tennis match trying to figure out where it was.
In competitive family birding, the spoils go to the first spotter. Find it, shoot it, announce to brother what you are taking a picture of, brother quickly makes his way over and right before he gets a chance to press the shutter, the first spotter with pictures now in the tin yells “BEES, BEES, BEES EVERYWHERE! God, they’re huge and they sting crazy! They’re ripping my flesh off! Run away, your firearms are useless against them!” while frantically waving his arms about.
I’ll feel sorry for him when that little stunt is for real – I can run faster and a LOT farther than him hehehe. Okay, okay, I kid, although in this case I did accuse him of foul play. He would find it, I’d run over to get my shot and it would either dive into some thick brush or take off. Time and time again this played out, I swear he was chuckling at each of my failures. One of our birding rules allows us to use each other’s photographs in the case we both witnessed the bird and only one was able to get a decent tinning (see rule 4 addendum 2 link here). I was about to invoke that rule when this specimen flew up to a spot not far from me and graciously posed for me. Like a scene out of Zoolander, it hammed it up for the camera – what a relief.
He made sure I was able to get all the angles for its blog feature. Notice the yellow belly feathering transitions to white on the undertail coverts. This seems to be a very common trait among many of our Warblers.
Not much to leave you with respect to interesting tidbits about this particular Warbler. Cornell was pretty light, but their region maps note that they winter in the upper portion of South American and then migrate through the eastern half of the US on their way to their breeding grounds primarily in … surprise, surprise Canada. They are the last of the Warblers to leave their wintering homes and one of the first to head back home, which is one of the reasons they are so difficult to find. This specimen was likely just passing through when we took these shots in the middle of May. On a sad note, they do have a “watch:declining” conservation status due to a population reduction of over 60% between 1970 to 2014.
Take care everyone and hope you enjoyed the pretty Warbler with its fancy jewelry.