Saturday, August 19, 2017

Surreal Cerulean Celebration

[Port Huron SGA. June 2017]

The perils of unfettered excess are well publicized; virtue, as universally acknowledged, is circumscribed by the fine line of careful moderation. Yet, could we challenge conventional wisdom and dare to flirt in unbridled decadence over a single species? 


We posit that the answer to the above question is an emphatic "yes" and in this post, we ask the reader to indulge freely as we celebrate a brilliant songbird hued in surreal tones of cyan and azure -- the Cerulean Warbler. An avian gem widely regarded as the most aesthetically pleasing of all the birdlife found in North America. A claim whose proof demands nothing less than the complete dedication of this post to this singular subject: the exceptional Cerulean Warbler.







The male Cerulean Warbler is a sight to behold. Unlike some of our larger warblers such as Bay-breasted or the Prothonotary, the Cerulean is a small warbler with pure white underparts. The head and back are azure with blue streaks.








The male also shows a distinctive neck band as well as flank streaking.



The Cerulean Warbler appears in JJ Audubon's "Birds of America" as the "Azure Warbler".









Described by Alexander Wilson in 1810: "This delicate little species is now, for the first time, introduced to public notice .... On the borders of streams and marshes, among the branches of the poplar, it is sometimes found....the front and upper part of the head is of a fine verditer blue...". 




Unlike many of our warblers that nest on or close to the ground, the Cerulean nests high up in the tree canopy.






Sadly, the Cerulean is classified as "Vulnerable" having suffered steep population declines -- only a quarter of the historical population from the 1960's remains extant today.





The Cerulean's nesting grounds lie in the Eastern US with a small fraction extending into Canada. In winter, these distinctive warblers are found in South America.




An unwritten rule of this blog is to feature a selection of birds to excite the reader's interest in a particular birding locale or hotspot. This post breaks this rule in focusing on a single species -- the Cerulean Warbler -- an exceptional warbler whose charisma demands exceptional treatment!

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