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.
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.