Warblers continue

With the cloud cover and drizzle sticking around overnight and all the next day, many of the passerine birds that were here on Friday remained in the area. These small birds migrate at night and if conditions aren’t right (clear skies and favorable winds) they won’t continue their southbound journeys until more suitable conditions prevail. They may, however, move slowly south as they feed from tree to tree or from woodlot to woodlot.

A Black & White Warbler gleans invertebrates from a willow trunk.

So with that in mind, Ranger Kristin and I tallied the following birds that stuck around for another day or who had arrived anew from the surrounding neighborhoods to feed in our little suburban island of wildness:

White-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Black & White Warbler, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Summer Tanager and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. I also thought I caught a glimpse of a cuckoo, but can’t be certain of its identity.

I’m sure that there were some birds that we missed, some that eluded our watchful eyes and ears (I should say Kristin’s ears since I can no longer hear many of the high pitched calls of the birds).

There was a rather large flock of Chimney Swifts seen that day as well. There’s a National Guard Armory not far from the Museum (Stadium Drive) with a tall chimney that hosts swifts during late summer and early fall.

By the way, if you’re into birds, the willows in the Wetlands and the Mimosa Trees between Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind are full of tiny insects, psyllids and aphids and their eggs and larvae, mites and other small inveterbrates. The birds that are migrating through now are insectivorous.



2 responses to Warblers continue

  1. shawntell says:

    Are we considered “south” for some birds when they fly south for the winter and are there birds who live here that move further south because it is too cold here?

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Yes, we are considered south to some species, and yes there are species that nest here, like Gray Catbird, that migrate even further south than here in North Carolina, all the way across the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.
      Most of the warblers that are moving through our area now will end up in Central or South America.
      The motivation to move south is not necessarily the cold weather, it’s more the absence of food. Insectivorous birds move south first in the season because their food supply, insects, become harder to find as the seasons progress. Later in the fall birds that rely on seeds and grains will be moving south when their food becomes harder to find, whether that’s due to snow or ice covering their food sources or various other reasons which makes it difficult to find food, such as a poor crop of their preferred food.
      Although the shortage of food, both insects and grains, can be attributed to the weather or cold, the cold itself is not the main reason the birds move south, it’s the lack of food in the colder north that makes them head south, following the food source.
      Many birds only travel as far south as they have to in order to find a reliable food source.
      There will be lots of sparrows (granivores) and other birds arriving next month (October) that will find our area the place to be for the winter. They will stop here and go no further in their migrations.
      Most of our resident insectivorous nesting birds, like Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and House Wren will high-tail it out of here and won’t be seen until next April or May.
      Of course, there will also be gulls, ducks, and hawks arriving from the north which will stop here and not feel the need to move further south. As long as the lakes don’t freeze over (for the ducks to swim in), and the parking lots next to fast food restaurants remain clear (for the gulls to hang out in, they also feed heavily in landfills), and there’s plenty of bird feeders in the area (for hawks to raid), they too should stick around for the winter. It’s a bit more complicated than that but basically that’s the gist of it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.