This Winter of 2018 has been long and cold and quiet. It is nearly April and I long for the return of our songbirds, especially the Wood Warblers. The first green shoots of snowdrops have begun to push through the thawing crusty soil. Sugar maples are tapped and the sap has been flowing for awhile now. Steam is streaming out of sugar shacks throughout the countryside. On warmer days our year-round birds are singing. Robins and White-throated Sparrows are turning over leafy covers protecting morsels of sleeping caterpillars and chrysalises. Bluebirds murmur in monotones and are cheerfully claiming their territory. Saying hello and goodbye to our resident and visiting songbirds is a seasonal ritual. As spring unfolds, Dark-eyed Juncos will leave for higher grounds nearby to breed. They will not return again until late fall. Of all the songbirds none are more varied in colors and songs than the Wood Warblers. I look forward to welcoming them back to Flower Hill Farm Retreat soon. Here are a few of my captures from 2017.
Just passing through will be the rusty capped Palm Warblers, who may spend up to two weeks hunting here in the gardens and fields, before heading up into their breeding territory in Canada. The males are easy to spot bobbing their tails, while diving through trees. They will show up in April and then return on their way to the overwintering sites along the further most tips of the south and into the islands. I cannot say I have ever heard them singing.
Another favorite warbler, who will be migrating through our wildlife habitat, is the small Northern Parula. He loves to forage through the apple and crabapple blossoms for tiny caterpillars and graces us with his buzzy and rapidly repetitive, falling trills.
The Blue-winged Warbler will stay with us and proudly fill his breast with song for a mate. His unique song reminds me of the musical chirping of a cricket. The pair will raise their young and return year after year.
The Yellow Warbler is a seasonal resident. I look forward to hearing the male’s cheery song.
The word common seems a slight to the “Common” Yellowthroat. The little masked songbird always offers a spark of intrigue in his manner and song. He and his mate will raise their young in the fields surrounding the gardens.
Before long, the female American Redstart will be busy gathering nesting materials, while her partner encourages her with his high chirps and melodious voice. Her colors are more yellow to the male’s bright orange and black.
The redstarts also love to spend time in the crabapple blossoms in between singing and nest building. They open and close their tails to flash out any critters hiding in the petals and leaves.
I will be able to pick out the twangy songs of the Black-throated Green Warbler, when he returns for the spring and summer.
The lovely warbles of the yellow-capped Chestnut-sided Warbler will be a welcome sound from high in the bursting green treetops.
As well as, the trills of the Yellow-rumped Warbler calling and singing out to his partner. The male sits proudly up in the oak on the right. The duller female is perched in a hydrangea bush in the left picture above. They both have yellow rumps which inspired their name.
Last spring was the first time I sighted and heard the sweet high tones of the Blackburnian Warbler. I hope I get another chance this spring to capture his bold orange throat full of song.
The Black-and-white Warbler offers another high-pitched tune while creeping up and down branches much like a nuthatch.
I mostly encounter the secretive and thrush-like Ovenbird in the forest singing “tea-cher, Tea-cher, Tea-cher!” All of these wood warblers and a few more will be returning to the landscape soon. Their songs and calls will fill the air around the gardens and fields and forest. I can hardly wait. If you would like to see more of the wood warblers and other songbirds, you can visit my Passerine page on my website.