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Friday, May 9, 2014

Magee Marsh: Warbler Mecca of the US and the Biggest Week in American Birding

[Magee Marsh, OH. May 2014]

There's a reason why the The Biggest Week in American Birding is held on the Southern shores of Lake Erie in Ohio at Magee Marsh. The lake acts as a "speed bump" for birds in migration and in early May, they take their time refueling on insects at the famous marsh before continuing their onward journey to their breeding grounds.

This will be a running post that will profile warblers based on the day of observation throughout the Biggest Week:

May 11th and the Conclusion of the Biggest Week

The Biggest Week in American Birding ended on 5/16 and my last foray into Magee Marsh during this time period was the 11th. One of the problems of  "counting" is that as the count advances to the expected total, a feeling of "doneness" arises (and, of course, a birder can never be "done" :-)) -- but, in any case, we end the Biggest Week in American Birding with a total of 29 species of North American Wood Warblers.

Cumulative warbler species observed: 29 (+1)

New warblers in this post:
  1. Golden-winged Warbler
 A single female seen by the "little loop" -- high up in the canopy and difficult to photograph:

And, repeat warblers photographed include:
  1. Canada Warbler
  2. Cape May Warbler
  3. Northern Waterthrush
  4. American Redstart
A glorious male, singing away:

A Cape May was bathing in the dew on the leaves:

This Northern Waterthrush was horribly backlit:

American Redstarts had a strong presence:


May 9th and 10th

Two good days at Magee (but not like the 8th); having photographed 30 warbler species (a personal best) last year at this venue, I am curious to see how I fare in 2014. Unfortunately, I have dipped on some notable species from 2013: Kentucky, Worm-eating, Orange-crowned, Cerulean and Golden-winged.

Cumulative warbler species observed: 28 (+5)

New warblers in this post:
  1. Canada Warbler
  2. Yellow-throated Warbler
  3. Northern Waterthrush
  4. Louisiana Waterthrush
  5. Hooded Warbler
And, repeat warblers photographed include:
  1. Black-throated Blue
  2. Blackburnian
  3. Chestnut-sided
  4. Prothonotary
  5. American Redstart
  6. Magnolia Warbler
  7. Cape May Warbler
  8. Bay-breasted Warbler
  9. Mourning Warbler
  10. Ovenbird
And, here they are -- leading with Canada Warbler; this is a late warbler and this stunning male was early. Now much beloved (contrast with its goose namesake); in a week, though, they will be numerous and cruelly ignored for their abundance.


Yellow-throated Warbler -- this Southeastern Warbler was unexpected this far North. Seen from the "tower", this warbler was a 15 minute wonder before it disappeared.


Northern Waterthrush: consistently found in poor lighting and low-contrast backgrounds:


If you thought, the Northern Waterthrush photographed poorly, take a look at the Louisiana:


Continuing the trend in exposure and focus-challenged shots, here's another one, this time of the Hooded Warbler:

Sparingly seen, it seems incredulous that last year they were found reliably and within inches of the boardwalk.

Repeat warblers:

Black-throated Blue -- it can be difficult to capture the black, blue and white of this warbler; and especially to make the eye stand out against the black of the face:

Blackburnian -- anecdotally, it has been heard that many non-believers have been converted to birders upon a single sight of the sunset-hued Blackburnian:

Chestnut-sided: numerous and confiding:

Protonotari Citrea: a male, shortly joined by his mate:

American Redstart:sterz is German for tail and stert was the Old English equivalent; so literally a Redstart means "red tail".

Magnolia: first discovered in a Magnolia tree:

Cape May: had our birding pioneers been aware of Magee Marsh in the 1700 and 1800's, half our warblers (at least) would have been called "Magee Warbler" rather than "Cape May" or "Nashville" ...:


Mourning -- seen on the Estuary trail (beach side):

Ovenbird: usually observed picking at the leaf litter, seeing one perched was a real treat:


May 8th

An awesome day at Magee; as predicted by Kenn Kaufman Blog, today was a spectacular day. Let me quantify -- the trees and shrubs were dripping with warblers and other migrants. Within half an hour, 10 warbler species could be sighted. At eye level -- on practically every tree and shrub. If there is a Birding Heaven up there, it will look like Magee on May 8th!

Cumulative warbler species observed: 23 (+9)

New warblers observed:
  1. Magnolia Warbler
  2. Northern Parula
  3. Bay-breasted Warbler
  4. Mourning Warbler
  5. Cape May Warbler
  6. Blackpoll
  7. Wilson's Warbler
  8. Common Yellowthroat
  9. American Redstart
And, repeat warblers photographed were no less impressive:
  1. Black-throated Blue
  2. Blackburnian
  3. Chestnut-sided
  4. Prothonotary
  5. Palm
  6. Myrtle

And, here they are:

The Maggie -- this warbler leverages every "trick in the book" when it comes to visual features -- colored in yellow, grey and black; it has a face mask, a necklace, flank streaks, half an eye-crescent and a supercilium plus a rump patch. No other warbler is as full featured.


Northern Parula -- nice to see one outside of SW Florida where I see them year-round:

Bay-breasted -- a favorite of those who like earth-tones:

Mourning Warbler -- seen with unparalleled clarity this year. This is typically a stubbornly reclusive warbler which derives great pleasure from the collective frustration of birders:


Cape May: A delightful combination of cinnamon, brown and yellow:


Blackpoll: the long-distance migration champion:


Wilson's -- while yellow is not an original color in warblers, the black "tonsure" on the head certainly is:

Common Yellowthroat -- not that common at Magee:

American Redstart -- a flash of black and orange in the leaves:

Repeat warblers:

A banner day for Black-throated Blues -- frequently 2 or 3 on a single tree:


Blackburnian's were extremely approachable:


Chestnut-sideds were numerous:

Protonotari Citrea put on a good show:

Palm Warbler numbers are thinning out:

And, of course, the Myrtle's are still around:


May 6th

Cumulative warbler species observed: 14 (+3)

New warblers observed:
    1. Ovenbird
    2. Black-throated Blue Warbler
    3. Chestnut-sided Warbler
     A bright day at Magee. A handful of new arrivals but the big wave is yet to arrive.


    Ovenbird is generally one of the earlier arrivals.

    Black-throated Blue
     A single individual was seen today; hopefully, more to be expected.


    An under-rated warbler, Chestnut-sided always delights. Like the Black-throated Green, it is quite bold and permits close observation.

    Repeat warblers seen: Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, Blue-winged, Nashville

    Black-throated Green:



    May 2nd

    Cumulative warbler species observed: 11 (+3)

    New warblers observed:
    1. Blue-winged Warbler
    2. Pine Warbler
    3. Prothonotary Warbler

    While the first picture shows a typical Blue-winged, the second appears to be a hybrid (note yellow wingbars).

    A female Pine


    Repeat warblers seen: Palm, Black-throated Green, Myrtle, Yellow


    Black-throated Green


    April 30th

    Cumulative warbler species observed: 8 (+8)

    New warblers observed:
    1. Blackburnian Warbler
    2. Black-and-white Warbler
    3. Black-throated Green Warbler
    4. Palm Warbler
    5. Yellow Warbler
    6. Myrtle Warbler
    7. Nashville Warbler 
    8. Tennessee Warbler



    Black-throated Green:

    Palm Warbler
    Yellow Warbler
    Myrtle Warbler

    Nashville Warbler

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