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Friday, June 15, 2012

Breeding Warblers of Port Huron SGA. June 2012.

Port Huron State Game Area (SGA) is a featured venue for birding field trips by the Detroit Audubon Society. And justifiably so -- a good variety of desirable warbler species may be found here: Cerulean, Hooded, Mourning, Ovenbird, Blue-Winged, Pine, Black-and-White and more.

The Hooded is a striking warbler and prefers low vegetation habitat for feeding unlike the more canopy-minded Cerulean. At Port Huron SGA, 2 males were found jousting for dominance and alternatively gained the upper hand.

Also seen was the blue-winged warbler; a common species in these parts. Its success means the golden winged is getting scarcer. This is an attractive yellow warbler with black eye-liner and two wing-bars on its grey wings.

Some of the more common warblers were common yellowthroat [middle and right] and pine warbler [left and lower right]. The pine warbler favors canopy heights so it was a challenge to photograph unlike the common yellowthroat which stayed low.

The star of the area has to be the Mourning Warbler. A notoriously difficult bird to see during migration (at Magee Marsh, their sightings frequently cause birder jams on the boardwalk), it is reliable at Port Huron SGA. This is a stunning warbler with a grey hood and a black bib. It is the former feature which lends the image of a mourning veil. This is unlike the Mourning Dove which takes its name not from its visual characteristics but its sad call.

Another good find in the area is Ovenbird. This distinctive warbler [left and upper right] is known for its loud "teacher, teacher, teacher" call. The streaking on its breast is reminiscent of a thrush [upper right] and it has an orange streak on its crown. Unlike the other warblers, its wintering range includes the US [in Florida] and is reliably found, for example, at places like Corkscrew Swamp.

The Cerulean was seen (and photographed but poorly) so didn't make this article; it's proving to be a bit of a nemesis bird for me!

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