Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Everybody's Favorite | Warblers & Song Birds

Over the last few weeks it has been noted that almost all songbirds are behind schedule on their northward migration to Newfoundland. The last few species are now showing up such as Redstarts, Magnolias and Mourning Warblers. However the flycatchers like Yellow-bellied and Alder have not yet arrived in numbers, I believe only one or two YB flycatchers have been spotted.

Male Yellow Warbler

One down side to spring migration is that it by the time most birds are back it is mid to late June. It just so happens that each year June is the end of the school year and crunch time for exams.... I continue to ask me self  do I go chasing warblers or do I study.....warblers almost always win.
Warblers and other songbirds are one of my favourite types of birds to photograph other then shorebirds. These brightly coloured little birds arrive each year for a few short months to nest, raise young and get the hell out of here before our harsh winter sets in again. It's not easy to get photos of these birds, they are quick and never sit still. Another challenge when photographing songbirds is you almost always hear them before you see them. So if you can not identify the bird by its call good luck in trying to get a photo.  Each species of warbler lives in a different section of the forest. Birds like the Cape May warbler and Balck-throated green warblers are almost always seen in the tops of trees where as birds like common yellow throat and hermit thrush are almost always near the base of trees or in shrubs. This is where knowing bird calls helps. If I hear a common yellow throat I'm not looking up in the trees, I'm searching the underbrush and bushes near the ground.

Yellow Bellied Flycatcher
This is not something that happens by chance, each species of wood warbler has a different technique in finding food and dwells in a different part of the tree canopy. By doing this, there is not as much competition for food among different species. I find things like this so interesting and it's just another reason why I love photographing birds. You never know what you will see and it is completely different from day to day!

Black Throated Green Warbler 

Mourning Warbler

So far this year I've only really seen Yellow, Yellow rump, Wilsons, Blackpoll, B&W, and a few thrushes like Northern waterthrush and Hermit thrush. I plan on getting out this weekend to try my hand at photographing some Black throated green warblers and possibly my favourite warbler, the Magnolia warbler.

American Redstart 
I get my images by playing the birds song to get the birds in close. This technique is used by both birders and photographers and a lot of people frown upon the idea. I personally think if you are responsible when using the call it is 100% harmless to the birds. Using calls becomes a problem when people use the call over and over again and also when people are going to the same locations day in and day out playing calls. Doing this can result in birds giving up on a territory or completely disrupting a nesting pair. I also find that the call only really works once anyways, after the first time the bird never acts the same and is very quick to realise that the call is not coming from another bird. 

On a side note: This morning there was 9 occupied Tree Swallow nest boxes in paradise. There are also 4 other boxes that have pairs fighting over them. 

The blog may be slow over the next while as I have to try and put the camera down and study. Reading posts of birds like piping plovers and Northern Parula's are making it increasingly harder!

Later i will do a post focusing on Sparrows

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