This years Warbler migration for my area migrant traps started a little slow. The Warblers trickled in a few species and birds at a time. First of course were the Yellow Rumps and the Palm Warblers, then the Yellow Warblers, and Black & Whites. Late April was cold and wet maybe that kept more birds south, but the hardy little birds I did see stopped and looked for food. Here a Yellow Rump is foraging on the surface of Sweets Marsh.
This Palm Warbler in the wet and cold rested and then went back to foraging in the same area as the Yellow Rumps. There were also Swallows flying around, they appeared to be catching some kind of flying insects also. I was a little worried for this years migrants, it stayed cold way into the first and second week of May. Warbler migration is triggered by the length of the day not how warm it gets. So they have no idea how cold it will be on their migration routes.
|Little Green Heron|
With lack of new birds I watched for other migrants, like this little Green Heron.
Their colors are subtle but rich and complementary.
He didn't appear to be fishing just resting. I have seen these Herons in early Spring before but was never able to be fast enough to get photos of them. This bird let me take several photo's. I seen this particular Heron at Sweets Marsh.
These waders like to use bait when they fish, to entice their prey to come close enough to catch. I have seen this technique online on youtube.
I understand why it is called the Little Green Heron , it seemed very small compared to the other herons you see, about the size of a Crow.
I always seem to see them while the waterfowl are migrating which is in the month of April.
I also spotted two Great Egrets is this small creek in a pasture, never before have I seen these waders (stalkers) here. That's why I really keep my eyes and sometimes ears aware , during migration you never know what you might see.
Although not as big as a Great Blue Heron it has a large wingspan and they are about 3ft. high with the lace like plumage growing past the tail, using this plumage for display during courtship, known as the nuptial plumes.
These feathers were so prized for Victorian era fashion during the 19th and part of the 20th centuries hunters killed over 95% of these birds. Part of those "good ol days" when there wasn't any king of regulations whatsoever. Plume hunting was stopped and the Great Egret and other plume birds have recovered.
Nice to see biodiversity.
Getting back to the Warblers . As the month of May started to get warmer with those warm southern winds also came more and varied species of Warblers. Not all Warblers migrate at the same time, there are early and there are later Warblers, Still no real big fall out situation yet. Last year I witnessed a fall out and you would see multiples of each species everywhere you looked. Not this year , around May 9th I was out at one of my spots and there wasn't much happening for warblers so I started looking for Scarlet Tanagers it wasn't long before this brilliant bird appeared
This male Tanager checked me out , I was near a Willow tree that was flowering and it was loaded with insects which he soon discovered and began to take advantage.
Most Neo tropicals are insect eaters especially Tanagers this bird was having a fest. I soon started to see other birds feeding. A Rose Breasted Grossbeak came to watch the activity and then a Yellow Warbler and several Northern Parulas the smallest of our Warblers came to take part.
I spotted this one and other male Northern Parulas but the male Yellow Warbler wouldn't let them eat the insects. Except this little Warbler would sneak back and it was a big tree and the defending Warbler couldn't defend the whole tree, a lot was going on at the Willow, It was fun to watch.
These birds have traveled a long way so when there is a good food source they find it and frenzy. I also spotted some Nashville, and a few Redstart males. The males arrive first it seems then behind them later come the females , like a lot of the birds. I still have not seen a fall out yet, every year is different, and what you see will be different from year to year also, that is why I like to change up the habitats I check out , most times I will see something different and be able to add a new species to my life list.
A male Yellow Warbler below like the one defending the Willow is one of our most common Warblers.
As the month continued to have it's warm fronts and it's cold fronts, I began to see my favorites. The Woodland Warblers are so interesting and so different in color, behavior and in song. I never forget why I love to get out to see and experience these little jewels as they pass through Northeast Iowa. From the beginning of late April when the trees are barely showing any signs of budding to the end of May when it's hard to see because the trees are so leafed out , the Warbler migration is truly a sight to behold a really beautiful and rich experience.
Another interesting bird is this little Canada a very cooperative and curious fellow,
as he came very close while looking for insects. He would forage then sing a little, responding to other calls maybe I don't know but he was sure a active little male, this bird isn't sticking around for long so he is on the move looking for food. The Canada warbler has a necklace like pattern below his throat . He is also a low canopy forager so he is on the ground a lot of the time.
Another favorite is the Blackburnian with it's fire orange throat and black markings what a interesting color combination this species will linger awhile, I have seen a bird like this one and went back a week later to the same general area and seen him again.
High in the canopy is the Cape May Warbler a very bright and colorful bird. I have seen a lot of Cape May this year , in past years I would see one . This year at two locations I seen two to four individuals, so trying different habitats has payed off and there are areas I haven't been able to get to yet there is always next year. I also saw other birds during this years migration Golden Winged Warblers, Tennessee, Wilson, Magnolia, Oven Birds and Black Poll Warblers also I sawYellow Throated and Blue Headed Vireos , Eastern Towhees. I still have a lot more Warblers I haven't seen yet so that will always be the challenge and the goal to see and experience all the Eastern Woodland Warblers .