Monday, July 24, 2017

Macomb Marvels: Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat

[Macomb Co. April 2017]

There are many qualities we admire in committed naturalists and dedicated birders. One of these, of course, is their dedication in living to the motto "We shall not equate abundance with apathy". Surely, a credo for all of us to live by. 

Indeed, the dedicated birder is one whose inquisitive spirit is never dampened even when confronted by the frequent and the familiar. Thus, in celebration of the commonplace and the ordinary, we present a collection of species that while never uncommon are nonetheless uncommonly beautiful (all species observed in Macomb County, Michigan):

  • Warbling Vireo
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Tree Swallow
It takes uncommon aesthetics to see the lurking beauty in our commoner species and nowhere is this more exemplified than in our first species, the Warbling Vireo:

A delightful songbird, this is an otherwise drab looking vireo that lacks the typical yellows and greens associated with the family. This beautiful specimen was spied at Lake St. Clair Metropark.

While the long and energetic warble of the Warbling Vireo is a powerful force of nature, the Common Yellowthroat's catchy "Wichety, Wichety" rings gently from every brushy corner of our fields in Spring:

This is a striking warbler and one oft wonders if it didn't deserve to be named for its prominent black mask rather than its yellow throat. Seen at Wetzel State Park, this otherwise skulking warbler is more easily observed in the breeding season when the males are perched in song.

Equally vocal is the Yellow Warbler:

This yellow marvel with maroon streaking and its simple "sweet, sweet" song is a common sight even in suburbia (here observed at Lake St. Clair).

Baltimore Oriole were also observed at Lake St. Clair:

Other species included Belted Kingfisher:

A Great Blue Heron in flight at Lake St. Clair:

Pied-billed Grebe:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak:

And, Tree Swallow:

Macomb county harbors many hotspots such as Wetzel SP and Lake St. Clair Metorpark that hold avian marvels such as Warbling Vireo and Common Yellowthroat. And, the inquisitive birder shall never be underwhelmed by their commonality; for, these "ordinary" denizens of our Eastern forests hold charms that have the capacity to enthrall and enthuse even the most jaded of birders.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Spectacular Sky Islands of Arizona featuring Red-faced Warbler

[Mt. Lemmon. April/May 2017]

What would the annals of American Birding be without reference to the spectacular birdlife of the Arizona Sky Islands? Like the crown jewels without the Kohinoor; or, the Himalayas without Everest, American Birding without the Sky Islands of Arizona would be a limp, colorless and insipid affair.

A Spring trip to Tucson and the surrounding area, proves why Mt. Lemmon should be on every birder's itinerary -- offering an unparalleled opportunity for observation of iconic species of the Sky Islands of the Southwest such as:

  • Red-faced Warbler
  • Audubon's Warbler
  • Acorn Woodpecker
  • Buff-breasted Flycatcher
  • Cassin's Finch
  • Grace's Warbler
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Pygmy Nuthatch
  • Pine Siskin
  • Plumbeous Vireo
  • Red Crossbill
  • Stellar's Jay
  • Summer Tanager
  • Western Bluebird
  • Yellow-eyed Junco
We start with the incomparable Red-faced Warbler:


The Red-faced Warbler is a warbler like no other -- a delicate grey with white undersides and a striking red face and black bonnet. 

Restricted to the Southwest, this beautiful warbler is not widespread but can be common in its limited range.  It was observed at Bear Wallow on Mt. Lemmon.


Audubon's Warbler, on the other hand, is a widespread warbler of the West:

Despite JJ Audubon's many contributions to the understanding of American birdlife, there are few birds named in his honor (unlike his contemporary, Alexander Wilson).

Acorn Woodpecker is one of our most unique woodpeckers:

In addition to its incredible memory, these gregarious birds are cooperative breeders.

Next, our most celebrated empid, Buff-breasted Flycatcher:

Also seen were, Cassin's Finch:

Grace's Warbler:

Hermit Thrush:

Pygmy Nuthatch:

Pine Siskin:

Plumbeous Vireo:

Red Crossbill:

Stellar's Jay:

And, in the lower regions of Molino Basin, Summer Tanager:

The best birding in this blogger's experience is at Rose Canyon, where this Western Bluebird was observed:

As well as Yellow-eyed Junco:

The American Birding experience cannot be considered complete unless it comprehends the Sky Islands of Arizona where a veritable avian cornucopia awaits discovery.