Category Archives: Warblers

Warblers: Bay-breasted Warbler

Photo of Bay-breasted Warbler

With a few minutes to spare on my way to work one morning last September, I stopped to scan for birds where I often do, at a spot where the road crosses a small river. Chestnut-sided Warblers tend to be the most talkative warbler at this spot, but that morning another warbler foraging in a Hawthorn tree caught my attention. I wasn't immediately sure who I was seeing, but I managed to snap a few photos before I had to get back in my car and on my way.

Later, after reviewing the photos, consulting some field guides, and checking with a knowledgeable birder, I determined I'd found a life bird, a rather drab (1st-winter) Bay-breasted Warbler.

Fast forward to the weekend before last, when I was leading a plant walk in Biddeford. We were nearly at our next plant -- who happened to be a Hawthorn tree -- when I noticed a bird had beaten us to the spot. I stopped in my tracks, raised my binoculars (yes, I'd worn them on a plant walk), and almost immediately burst with excitement. At long last, I'd found my first springtime Bay-breasted Warbler, a male with plumage I'd only seen before in field guides.

Photo of Bay-breasted Warbler

With my attention captured by the bird, Jenny introduced Hawthorn to the walk participants. A few minutes later, I rejoined the group, and we headed off to end our walk with Black Locust. With the walk completed, Jenny and I set off determined to re-find the warbler. A few minutes of scanning turned up the bird, and I was able to snap some better photos to share with you here (my earlier attempts during the walk were out of focus, but one made for a fun photo quiz).

To learn about the identification and life history of Bay-breasted Warblers and to listen to a sample of their high-pitched song, visit All About Birds.

Photo of Bay-breasted Warbler

Warblers: Palm Warbler

Photo of Palm Warbler (fall)

Palm Warblers are among the last warblers to migrate through New England in fall (with some lingering into November) and among the first warblers to be seen in spring. They reach the northeast in red-capped breeding plumage (see below) in April around the time when Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers return. Their habits of tail-flicking and feeding close to the ground in open or semi-open areas mean that they're among the easier warblers to spot.

Palm Warblers have two recognized subspecies: the "Western" Palm and the "Yellow" Palm. Westerns have whitish bellies (rather than yellow) and tend to pass through New England earlier in fall than Yellows. With few exceptions, Westerns don't pass through New England in spring. The birds pictured here are all "Yellow" Palm Warblers. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)

Warblers: Yellow-rumped Warbler

Photo of Yellow-rumped Warbler

The majority of warblers who summer in New England or points north have fled south by early November. The occasional Pine, Palm, Nashville, Orange-crowned, or less common vagrant Warbler may linger well into the new year (or even overwinter), but odds are if you see a warbler in late fall or winter, you're probably along the coast, and the bird is most likely a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Continue reading Warblers: Yellow-rumped Warbler