Posts Tagged ‘warblers’


Canada Warbler

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

June 23, 2017
Canada Warbler

Cardellina canadensis

by Paul Cianfaglione
Spring is by far the best season for finding wood warblers in Connecticut. Sadly, the same birdwatchers who so eagerly await their spring arrival, suddenly forget about warblers once nesting season has begun.

The Canada Warbler, for instance, approaches its southern limit of breeding distribution in Connecticut and further south in the Appalachian mountain range. It undertakes a long annual migration for a wood-warbler, wintering primarily in northern South America.

Where to find it: During the breeding season, Canada Warblers are found in mixed coniferous-deciduous forests with a well-developed understory, which often includes dense stands of mountain laurel.

Canada Warbers nest at Connecticut Audubon’s Croft preserve, in Goshen. Places such as Peoples State Forest in Barkhamsted and Mohawk State Forest in Goshen provide such habitat. You can find others on eBird. 

How to find it: When searching for nesting Canada Warbler, it is important to become familiar with its unique song. One of my favorite ways of locating a Canada Warbler is by slowly driving along Greenwoods Road in Peoples State Forest, listening for its clear, loud chip note, followed by an abrupt, explosive series of short notes that regularly ends with a three-note phrase.

Canada Warblers are nesting now. But because they are long-distance migrants, they are often one of the first warbler species to be detected away from their breeding grounds. It is not unusual to find southbound migrant Canada Warblers along powerline corridors or coastal habitats as early as mid-August.

What it looks like: Often referred to as the “Necklaced Warbler,” male Canada Warblers sport unmarked gray upperparts, yellow underparts, black facial markings and, of course, a spectacular black necklace, which makes identification pretty straightforward. Females are far less distinctive, but still retain some the key field marks.  

Conservation status: The North American Bird Conservation Initiative designated the Canada Warbler as a Highest Priority Land Bird in Bird Conservation. Partners in Flight North American Land Bird Conservation Plan lists this as a species of high conservation concern in the Northern Forest region. The Northeast Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Technical Committee recognize Canada Warbler as one of the region’s highest priorities for conservation and research. (Source: Birds of North America Online Version, 2017).

Photos by William Majoros (top) and Jose Loaiza, 

Hooded Warbler

Friday, May 19th, 2017
May 19, 2017

Hooded Warbler
Setophaga citrina

by Christopher S. Wood, Woodbury, Connecticut
Usually first noticed by a ringing “weeta, weeta, weeteeo” song, a Hooded Warbler sighting highlights almost any bird walk in the Connecticut woods.

Hooded Warblers reach the northern edge of their breeding range here in Connecticut (although there is a breeding population in southern Ontario), generally arriving during the first week of May and setting up housekeeping almost immediately.

What it looks like:
Adult male Hooded Warblers are unmistakable, with a bright yellow face surrounded by a black hood and with all-yellow undersides. None of the other yellow-faced, black-throated warblers (such as Black-throated Green) have completely yellow undersides. Fully adult females show at least the outline of the black hood, although first year females are rather non-descript and might be confused with females of several other species. However, their habit of distinctively flashing large white spots on the tail confirms the identification.

Where to find it: The combination of habitat availability and the northern limits of its range focuses Hooded Warbler breeding into an east-west band across the middle of Connecticut.

Reliable and accessible locations in eastern Connecticut include Connecticut Audubon’s Trail Wood sanctuary in Hampton, and Hurd State Park in East Haddam. In western Connecticut, good spots are Naugatuck State Forest in Naugatuck and Bent of the River Sanctuary in Southbury.

Conservation Status: Hooded Warblers were once common along the coast of Connecticut, according to early accounts, but there are virtually no eBird reports from the coastal area during nesting season over the past 10 years. Clearly this is a result of intensive coastal area development.

Although listed by the IUCN as a species of least concern and with increasing population rangewide, the average number of Hooded Warblers recorded on Breeding Bird Surveys in Connecticut has increased significantly since the 1960s. However the species might become rarer as nesting habitat of mature mixed forest with dense understory and canopy openings is lost. Some targeted habitat management, such as selective logging, may be appropriate and relatively simple.

Interesting Facts: Recent DNA research has resulted in Hooded Warblers, along with 33 other wood warblers, being classified in the single genus Setophaga (“moth eaters”). Hooded Warblers were formerly joined with Wilson’s Warbler and Canada Warbler in the genus Wilsonia; however, based on the DNA research, they may actually be more closely related to the American Redstart.

All Photos © C.S. Wood 2017

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American Redstart: Bird Finder for September 21, 2016

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
redstart-american_dominicsheronyAmerican Redstart
Setophaga ruticilla

by Andy Rzeznikiewicz 
The beautiful little American Redstart is migrating through Connecticut now and will be here for another week or so.

What it looks like: Adult male American Redstarts are mostly black with bright orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. The underside is white. Females and immature males replace the orange with yellow or yellow-orange. They have gray head and underparts, with olive back and wings and dark-gray tail. Most of the birds found at this time of year tend to be immature birds.

Where and how to find it: At this time of year they are often found in mixed flocks following the chickadees through the woods. If you can find the chickadees then you’ll have your best chance of finding an American Redstart and other warblers mixed in with them. In  spring and summer they are commonly found in young and mature forests with a good understory component. The nests are placed in the fork of a young tree often only 12 to 15 feet off the ground. 

The American Redstart is pretty easy to pick out of a mixed flock. They often flash their orange or yellow tails while they feed and chase other birds around. At this time of year they can be found just about anywhere in the state. They will be here for another week or so.

redstart_american_limetreefarm4What if the bird isn’t there: The beauty of the fall migration is that everything is in mixed flocks and you can find just about anything: all kinds of warblers, vireos, flycatchers and thrushes. Keep an eye to the sky for migrating raptors as well.
Conservation status: American Redstart is considered to be of Least Concern. They are still relatively common throughout their breeding range and in Connecticut specifically, although there has been a slight decrease in population according to some studies.
Photos by Dick Daniels and Dominic Sherony (top), 
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Fire Throat: Blackburnian Warbler

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
Warbler,_Blackburnian_MdfBlackburnian Warbler
Setophaga fusca

At our Birdcraft Sanctuary we had seven individual Blackburnian Warblers in one day recently! Andy Griswold, director of our EcoTravel program, writes about the species.

What it looks like: One of the most strikingly colored of our wood-warblers, this species’ flaming orange throat was responsible for its colloquial name of “Fire Throat.” With yellow and black on its neck and face, black wings with a large fused white wing bar, and black streaks on a yellow to white belly, the male is unique among our North American warblers. Females are a muted version of the male, showing two narrower wing bars.

This bird was named after Anna Blackburne, an English botanist in the 1700s.

Where to find it: In recent days this species has made a good showing in Connecticut with as many as seven individuals being recorded for Connecticut Audubon Society’s Birdcraft Sanctuary in Fairfield. Andy Rzeznikiewicz had Blackburnian on Sunday on his annual “20-Warbler Day” excursion in and around our Center at Pomfret (they actually found 22 species this year). Other places like East Rock in New Haven and park land with mature trees would be a good spot to look for this species.

How to find it: Blackburnian Warbler breeds in mature coniferous and mixed coniferous/deciduous forests. In migration look for this bird in almost any taller flowering tree, usually fairly high up but not always. It often sings from the highest tree tops.

What if it isn’t there: Being in at the peak of songbird migration, look for all those other migrant species passing through including Northern Parula, Tennessee Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and Blackpoll Warbler. Of course you will likely find many of our nesting warbler species and should always keep in mind that southern vagrants like Kentucky, Prothonotary, and Swainson’s Warbler are possible. The Swainson’s Warbler would be a first state record. Learn its song!

Conservation status: Populations are considered stable with an estimated global breeding population of about 10 million. An individual recorded as the oldest banding recapture was at least eight years and two months old.


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Hooded Warbler: Bird Finder for May 12

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

HoodWarbler2atBirdcraft_TimAndiricHooded Warbler
Setophaga citrina

There are so many birds arriving (17 species of warbler at our Birdcraft Sanctuary alone today, Wednesday, 5/11) that it’s hard to pick just one. But with numerous reports from around the state, Andy Rzeznikiewicz has chosen Hooded Warbler for this week’s bird. At Birdcraft, the banding team banded a second-year male today, shown below.

By Andy Rzeznikiewicz, Land Manager, Connecticut Audubon Society
What it looks like: A very striking bird with a bright yellow face and underparts, black hood and bib, and a greenish back.

Where and how to find it: This bird nests in the understory of mature forests. It is often found in areas of thick mountain laurel or in thickets of invasive barberry. It is often heard before it can be observed. The call is loud and distinctive — so loud, in fact, that they can sound closer than they really are. Hooded Warblers can be observed high in the canopy or low in the underbrush. 

The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Trail Wood sanctuary in Hampton and Morgan R. Chaney Preserve in Montville have nesting populations found in the barberry thickets. 

At Trail Wood, check the areas of the south woods and behind the writing cabin.  Or join one of the guided bird tours to find them.

What if bird isn’t there: At this time of year, almost anything is possible while bird-watching. Trail Wood has many Scarlet Tanagers, Ovenbirds, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Veerys, Wood Thrushes, Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue-winged Warblers, and Red-eyed Vireos to name a few.

HoodWarbleratBirdcraft_TimAndiricConservation Status: The Hooded Warbler is actually on the increase! It is a southern bird that is becoming easier to find. It seems to be taking advantage of all the barberry invading the Connecticut forests. The first Hooded Warblers nested at Trail Wood about seven years ago; now at least three pairs nest there. At least four areas in Pomfret now have nesting populations as well, including a property abutting the Bafflin Sanctuary.

Photos courtesy of Tim Andiric.

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Bird Finder for February 10: Rare Hermit Warbler Visiting from the West

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
Warbler,_Hermit_FrodeJacobsenHermit Warbler
Dendroica occidentalis

By Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation
A rare Hermit Warbler was found in Barkhamsted last week and continues to be seen this week. This western wood-warbler is unmistakable with a bright lemon-yellow face, a grey, streaked back and whitish underparts.

This bird has been seen foraging along the water’s edge, across from the Post Office near the Rt. 318 bridge in Barkhamsted. About the size of a Yellow Warbler, this 5-inch, active warbler appears to be foraging for insects.

How to find it: It shouldn’t be hard if the bird is in the area. Check along the water’s edge, then in the trees and shrubs nearby for any actively feeding warbler-sized bird. This one is hard to miss if it is nearby. There’s a good chance other birders will be there as well.

Interesting facts: Although a fairly common western species, the Hermit Warbler has been recorded sporadically in the East and at least once in New Haven. Well out of habitat here in Connecticut, Hermit Warblers are typically found in western coniferous forests, usually in the tops of the tallest trees (like Douglas Fir) and is most often identified by its song, a rapid ze ze ze ze ze zeee!

Sometimes Hermit Warblers hybridize with the western Townsend’s Warbler in the Pacific Northwest where their ranges tend to overlap; the female Hermits preferring to mate with the male Townsends.

Conservation status: The IUCN lists the Hermit Warbler as Least Concern, however, because of its small range and specialized habitat, this warbler is considered vulnerable.

Photo taken in Oregon by Frode Jacobsen/

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