Thursday, January 22, 2015

December Delight: 8 Wintering Warbler Species in Southwest Florida and the Miami Birding Wave

[Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, FL. December 2014]

Southwest Florida has an active and flourishing birding community that includes both full- and part-time residents engaged in the infinitely rewarding recreational obsession known as Birding. This vibrant community is active in a lot of different ways:
The above is not exhaustive and there are probably more resources than I am presently aware (please post a comment below on additional resources).

Thus, I was intrigued when I chanced upon the following Mission Statement:
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After ongoing conversations about the state of Miami’s birding community, several like-minded individuals decided to put words into action. We are here to stir the pot.

The Miami Birding Wave aspires to encourage the development of our community, serve as an olive branch to new and established birders, and shape the image of the birding culture in the Magic City.

>>

Indeed, it appears what's already happening in SW Florida now appears to be organically taking root on the other side of Alligator Alley and the result is the Miami Birding Wave (contact Alex Harper).  A quick browse through this website and it becomes evident that the protagonists of this birding revitalization movement have rapidly accomplished some really cool stuff: chasing rarities (Key West Quail Dove), conducting birding blitzes (128 species in the Miami metro area in a day) and more.

What caught this blogger's eye, however, was a recent post by young birder Carlos Sanchez on how 20 is par for the course for wintering warblers in the Miami area -- that's an astounding number! Of course, SW Florida can best this number in Spring migration but for wintering warblers, this number is hard to beat. Based on personal experience, SW Florida offers the following 10 wintering warblers reliably:
  1. Pine Warbler
  2. Prairie Warbler
  3. Palm Warbler
  4. Black-and-white Warbler
  5. Myrtle Warbler
  6. Northern Parula
  7. Ovenbird
  8. Common Yellowthroat
  9. Yellow-throated Warbler
  10. Black-throated Green Warbler
With 2 more possible: American Redstart and Northern Waterthrush. However, this number is still only half of what the Miami Birding Wave are finding -- 25 species this winter including Swainson's, Worm-eating, Orange-crowned and Magnolia --Well done Miami Birding Wave!

In this blogger's recent trip to SW Florida, only the following 8 warbler species were observed -- a number, now seemingly grossly inadequate, that will surely have to be improved upon in the future!

We start with Black-and-white Warbler:


Black-and-white Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp


Black-and-white Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp


Black-and-white Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp

The Black-and-white is one of our most photogenic warblers. Comparatively easy to spot owing to its tendency to hug tree trunks and branches, its "speed foraging" makes photography challenging.
Common Yellowthroat:


Common Yellowthroat seen at Bunche Beach


Common Yellowthroat seen at Bunche Beach


Common Yellowthroat seen at Bunche Beach
Unlike the generously visible Black-and-white Warbler, the Common Yellowthroat remains hidden in weedy areas and views are brief.

Myrtle Warbler:


Myrtle Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp


Myrtle Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp
Demoted to subspecies status since 1973, Myrtle Warbler is now lumped with 3 other sub-species (Audubon's Warbler (Western US), Black-fronted Warbler (NW Mexico) and Goldman's Warbler (Guatemala) -- read this excellent article on the associated genetics) as the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Northern Parula


Northern Parula seen at Corkscrew Swamp


Northern Parula seen at Corkscrew Swamp
Northern Parula is a year-round resident at Corkscrew and this male is already coming into its alternate plumage.

Prairie Warbler


Prairie Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp


Prairie Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp
Prairie Warbler, like the Parula, is a resident species although numbers are likely augmented by wintering migrants.

Pine Warbler:


Pine Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp


Pine Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp
Pine Warblers are not infrequently encountered with Brown-headed Nuthatches and Yellow-throated Warblers at Corkscrew.

Palm Warbler:


Palm Warbler seen at Bunche Beach


Palm Warbler seen at Bunche Beach
Palm Warblers are on the drabbest warblers in their winter plumage and can be found foraging virtually anywhere in SW Florida -- in urban parking lots, sandy beaches, and wooded areas.

Yellow-throated:


Yellow-throated Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp


Yellow-throated Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp


Yellow-throated Warbler seen at Corkscrew Swamp
The Yellow-throated Warbler appears to be taking advantage of global warming by extending their summer range into the Northern reaches of the US. They were observed by this blogger for the first time at Magee Marsh last Spring.

1 comment:

  1. It's unfortunate that the number of warbler species seen on the Gulf Coast in winter can't compete with that on the Atlantic Coast. There have certainly been countless hours devoted to the numbers of species noted in the report made by Carlos Sanchez. He offers a very good article and blog. A doubling of warbler species likely to be seen in a day is quite intriguing and daunting. It is certainly fun to visit the Miami area for birding with a large number of exotic parrots still unseen personally. Another trip is long overdue. You offer another round of splendid images and fun reading material.

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