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Friday, June 24, 2016

Prime Pickings at Pinckney: Cerulean Warbler, Scarlet Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo

[Pinckney RA. May/June 2016]

Spring Migration is a flash in the proverbial pan -- lasting but a month in the annual birding calendar (running from late April through late May here in Michigan). Yet in this relative short amount of time, the migration season packs a disproportionate punch when it comes to species diversity, numbers and, most importantly, a remarkable ease in observation.

Indeed, it is in these frenetic days that a grand parade of neotropical delights ensues at hotspots across the country -- fueling the avid birder's breathless excitement at the steady cadence of avian arrivals: first wrens, sparrows, nuthatches and blackbirds; followed by warblers, thrushes, finches and then tanagers and flycatchers. To be blind to the movement of this "feathered current" as it flows from South America and spills into our lands here in North America would surely be the gravest of travesties for not only birders but indeed all lovers of nature in North America.

In this post we explore a few hotspots (Hankerd Rd, Park Lyndon and Stinchfield Woods) in Pinckney Recreation Area (Washtenaw County) in late May and early June just as arriving species are starting to settle in from their long journeys from tropical America and are beginning to establish their breeding territories. And, in doing so, these neotropical species effect the dramatic transformation of our verdant forests into gardens of colorful feathered blossoms such as the following spectacular species:
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Yellow-throated Vireo
  • Eastern Wood Pewee
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Pine Warbler
We start with Hankerd Rd:

What would our Eastern Forests be without the flashy Scarlet Tanager? Superlatives fail us in doing justice to the tanager's liquid song and eye-blinding plumage:

This treasured visitor from S. America is our welcome guest for the Summer -- without it, our forests would be infinitely poorer.

Our next species, also observed at Hankerd Rd., while not exactly an explosion of color, is nonetheless brilliant in elegant tones of pale blue and light grey:

Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers, unlike Beeeaters, are misnomered having no particularly affinity for consuming gnats. Yet, these exclusive-to-the-New-World songbirds are energetic insect foragers that rarely pause to offer satisfactory observation.

The pale blue of the Gnatcatcher is no match for the dazzling indigo of our next bird -- the aptly named Indigo Bunting:

 Moving on to our next venue -- Park Lyndon:

Here, we start with the Cerulean Warbler:

Is there a more dazzling warbler? Certainly -- the Blackburnian and the Magnolia outshine the Cerulean. None, however, combines the aesthetics of white, sky blue and dark blue so perfectly; and, for this reason, the Cerulean is considered America's most beautiful warbler.

Chestnut-sided Warbler was observed as well -- unlike the Cerulean which favors the high canopy, the Chestnut-sided can be seen in shrubs and bushes:

A pair of raucous Yellow-throated Vireos were seen at Park Lyndon as well:

Our final species from Park Lyndon is Eastern Wood Pewee:

Now over to Stinchfield Woods:

Black-throated Green Warbler is hard to confuse in its range. Yes -- there are similarities with Golden-cheeked Warbler -- but this is a range-restricted species of Texas not to be expected anywhere else.

In addition to Hooded Warbler (seen distantly, above), a very handsome Pine Warbler was also spied at Stinchfield Woods:

The Magic of Migration doesn't end with Spring -- indeed, it marks a new period in which breeding species may be observed without fuss or fear. These prime avian pickings at Pinckney will be around long enough to raise the next generation of songbirds who will, like their parents, be dual citizens of both hemispheres of the New World.

1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

A very nice presentation, Hemant.