Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Warbler neck

You couldn't tell it by the weather. (It was in the 90s all week.)

It wasn't evident from the beautiful colors of the changing leaves. (A lack of rain has them all turning brown.)

But the invasion of neotropical migrants heading south must mean that it's really true. It's autumn!

Around this time of year you can spot birders easily too. They're the ones walking around massaging their sore necks.

Warblers, the ne plus ultra of passerine migrants, are known for spending most of their time high in the tippy tops of trees. So birders spend most of their time craning their necks to spot them. And we're among those nuts who spent more money on their binoculars than on their TV sets.

Another funny thing that most birders do is to keep lists. Life lists, year lists, trip lists, and so forth. It can become very competitive. (I've seen more birds than you have, nyah nyah nyah!) We are not such great listers, but we do keep a yard list. At our last house in the suburbs, we had such a great yard list that I hated to leave! We are gradually building the list here.

This week we had two new yard birds to add to our list. The first was one of my favorite warblers, the Blue-winged warbler (Vermivora pinus). I love the "raspberry" noise that is their song. Sounds like they're continually thumbing their little beaks at you. We saw two males travelling together, and heard a third one singing. A treat!

The other new birds were unexpected: a flock of Double-Crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) flying overhead! Not exactly warblerish, but I did strain my neck a little.


Rurality said...

Because I know Pablo is likely to ask: those are Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) trees. :)

Anonymous said...

Why would I ask that?

If I were to see a blue winged warbler in my sycamore tree, though, I'd think I was seeing a yellow finch and dismiss it.

How do you keep from getting wash out from the overhead light when you shoot to the tops of trees like that.

R.Powers said...

Okay,if I'm supposed to see a bird in that photo, I missed it. I love the twittering business of a tree full of warblers, but I confess they are all LGB's to me. I always seem to be looking up a small dark bird backlit by the bright sky.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big birder and I too keep a bird list. However, I tend to stay away from other birders (and their groups) for the aforementioned reasons. I know I'm missing out on learning from the power birders, but the competition and one-upmanship is just too much for me to take. I do have a few friends that I bird with and we're not ashamed to hug each other and jump up and down when we see something exciting or rare. LOL.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to hear you've seen cormorants around here too. The other day one came to my door at my studio and it was very bizarre. I didn't know what kind of bird it was at the time. The people across the street saw him walking down the sidewalk and then he turned and came to my place. To make a long story short, he was sick so Animal Control put him in a pet carrier and I talked them into letting me take him to Oak Mtn. Rehab. As far as I know, he is doing fine now.

Anonymous said...

Colleen, forget the power birders and look for little old ladies in the field. My strategy has been to find the nearest head of gray hair, especially female, and attach myself like a limpet. Works well even in California, where there are some seriously obnoxious birders.

I've found, though, that some of the male creme de la creme are in fact nice guys and interesting company -- people like Rich Stallcup, Keith Hansen (also a terrific artist), Dave Wimpfheimer.

Rur', I envy that blue-wing; it's been 25 years since I saw one, and that was my lifer. And I hear you about warbler neck. Ow.

Rurality said...

Hmm Pablo I thought it was you who always asked what kind of tree it was if I neglected to say. But I'm getting more and more... vintage every day, so my memory might be faulty on that.

I think the sun was behind me when I was taking this picture. Sometimes I shade the lens with my hand if I notice a glare.

FC, no I can't see it in the picture either. I believe there were some Redstarts in the tree at the time though. But those leaves are much bigger than the birds.

Colleen we used to try to take even the local "big guns" in small doses! Some of them really do want to help you learn, but of course others just seem to want to show off.

Weldergirl, I'd really have loved to have seen a cormorant walking around downtown Oneonta!
And what a smart bird, heading right for the store of the only person in O. who would have driven him all the way over to Oak Mountain. For those not familiar with the area, we're probably talking about 150 miles or so round trip!

Ron - I've seen a couple of those blue-wing/golden-wing hybrids down at Dauphin Island before. Talk about your confusing fall warblers!