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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Warbling Vireo, Swainson's Thrush and Tree Swallow at Lake St. Clair

[Lake St. Clair Metropark. May 2016]

Warble Me Your Song Sublime
Warble loud and warble long
Warble me your unending song 
Warble sweet notes that ward off sorrow 
Warble sublime like there is no tomorrow!

This poem may appear, at first, to be a North American Wood Warbler's credo but it is equally, if not more, applicable to a very special Vireo -- specifically, the Warbling Vireo. 

With melodic indefatigability that would put any tenor's operatic stamina to shame, the Warbling Vireo belts out long, complex musical notes with such energy and gusto that no other songbird perhaps quite possesses more warbling decibels per ounce!

A Spring visit to the fabled hotspot that is Lake St. Clair offered unprecedented views of Warbling Vireo as well as other species such as:
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Tree Swallow
  • Swainson's Thrush
  • American Redstart
  • Sora
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Song Sparrow
We start with the vireo:

Vireo's generally display some green but Warbling Vireo is fairly subdued when it comes to color; eking out at most some yellow and buffy smudges on a mostly pale and grey body. 

However, this drab vireo is an extremely accomplished songster and is capable of transfixing the observer with its spell-binding musical cascades.

Red-winged Blackbird, in comparison, is not as vocally gifted -- and, it would be cruel but not dishonest to label its "song" as nothing short of a series of cacophonous croaks.

Tree Swallow is probably the only species of swallow that this blogger has managed to regularly capture whilst perched:

The only other perched swallow in this blog is probably Violet-Green Swallow seen in Oregon.

Swainson's Thrush can be distinguished from Hermit Thrush by its buffy spectacles and lack of rusty tail:

While not comparable to the legendary Magee Marsh migration hotspot, nevertheless, Lake St. Clair is a respectable migrant trap as this American Redstart proved:

Other species observed included Sora:

Great Blue Heron:

And, Song Sparrow:

"Bird Watching" is a term that is both inaccurate and anachronistic -- it is a multi-sensory activity that involves hearing as much as seeing -- i.e., involving both aural and visual observation. And, when it comes to visual observation, more and more birders are replacing or complementing their binoculars with digital cameras for photo-documentation and for post-observance id confirmation.

Thus, "Birding" as a pursuit, rewards the participant at many levels with the gifts of avian observation -- and, the species profiled here, especially the Warbling Vireo, are a testament to this truth.


Bob Pelkey said...

I can't recall the last article you've published that didn't lead to a further investigation of a bird species' call or song. The voice of the Warbling Vireo certainly makes up for its relatively drab appearance. The Violet-green Swallow in your Oregon link is stunning, however the Tree Swallow is found much more appealing personally. Your photography of the latter is outstanding.

Digital Plume Hunter said...

Thanks Bob! The Tree Swallows were presumably inspecting potential nesting sites and I got lucky in finding one perched -- the lighting was just right!