Life bird #299 — Wilson’s Warbler

A Yellow Warbler peeking out

This morning I went on a bird walk with Chip Darmstadt, the director of the North Branch Nature Center.  We were looking for fall migrants and found a nice batch of them over a two hour period.  We started with a Bobolink perched on a Goldenrod and several frolicking Eastern Kingbirds along the entrance path, we found the trees along the river laden with warblers.  It’s quite a challenge with all the foliage and the frenetic nature of these elusive birds.  And they are not calling and in the fall plumage so it was nice to have Chip and his expertise along.

A Yellow Warbler bounced around in the morning sun, while a more shy Chestnut-sided lurked in the leaves until finally popping out for a good look.

A pair of House Wrens scolded us

We were scolded by a pair of noisy House Wrens while we watched a flock of Cedar Waxwings do their flycatcher routine.  And then we saw a flycatcher, probably a Least, and several other warblers (Yellow-rumped, Common Redstart, & Magnolia.)

Chip got pretty excited when we saw another little yellow bird flitting through the trees.  “I think that’s a Wilson’s Warbler,” he said.  We followed it with our binoculars trying to lock in field marks, as he called them out.  Yellow underparts, yellow face, no wingbars.  We knew we had it when we saw black on the top of the head.  Then it flew off.

Wilson’s Warbler (photo by goingslo)

We saw 28 species including a Flicker, a couple of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and a Hooded Merganser sunning herself on a log with three turtles.  Chip got a quick glance at a Black-Billed Cuckoo but we couldn’t get it to show again.  That’s another that I need for my life list so I think I’ll scoot down there tomorrow morning and see if I can spot it.

As any novice birder knows, it’s great to have an experienced set of eyes with you.  I find that’s particularly true with warblers and shorebirds — otherwise I get pretty frustrated sorting them all out.  But then, having seen these birds in their fall plumage, I have a much better chance to identify them next time I see them — like tomorrow.

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