This year’s “Butter-Butt” goes to Ranger Kristin who saw the first Yellow-rumped Warbler (a.k.a. Butter-butt) of the season – beat me by about two minutes (10/5/11). However, she’s the one that pointed out the Butter Butt that I saw, so I probably wouldn’t have seen it if she hadn’t pointed it out.
Congratulations Ranger Kristin!
There are still more seasonal firsts to be had so don’t despair. The first Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and White-throated Sparrow, among others, have yet to be seen. The next cold front should bring with it at least one of those birds, maybe two or three!
Why celebrate the arrivals of these birds? Each bird mentioned signifies a change in the season, a sort of one step further along towards the inevitable winter kind of change.
The arrival of the Yellow-rumped warbler is not really a celebration, it’s often considered a letdown. Butter butts are one of the last warblers to migrate south in the fall and, for birders, it marks the end of their chances to see those colorful migrants (warblers) as they pass through our area.
The yellow-rumpeds arrival also marks (roughly) the end of insectivorous birds in general migrating through our area. Most of the birds that follow will be fruit and grain eaters and those birds that can forage for insect eggs and larvae by gleaning from bark and pecking into wood.
Once the kinglets, sapsuckers and white-throats arrive, there’s no turning back, fall is well underway and winter is not far behind. This IS more of a celebration, because a different kind of birding takes over. New birds arrive, sparrows and perhaps winter finches appear at the feeders, sharp-shinned hawks raid those feeders, ducks fly in from the north, a whole new cast of characters arrive.
Exciting, isn’t it!