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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Magee Marsh: All the Rest

[Magee Marsh. May 2017]

Were this blogger to be accused of a pronounced (some might even say "obsessive"?) bias toward warblers, the accusation would be surely met with an acquiescence tantamount to sweet agreement. This is one accusation to which the only response is a joyful "guilty as charged"! 

Indeed, this bias is borne unashamed and its energy channeled into the glorious study of all North American warblerkind -- in passage, at their breeding grounds, in recognizing and learning their songs, observing their natural history and understanding their ecology. Surely, no other avian subject offers the prospect of such endless fascination and satisfaction. 

Yet, while warblers may be the stars of Spring migration; they are not exclusive in deserving photo-documentation of their passage at Magee Marsh. And, in this post, we offer a selection of the "non warblers" to excite and enthuse the reader:

  1. Blackbirds
    • Baltimore Oriole
    • Common Grackle
  2. Thrushes
    • Wood Thrush
    • Veery
    • Grey-cheeked Thrush
    • Swainson's Thrush
    • American Robin
  3. Vireos
    • Red-eyed Vireo
    • Warbling Vireo
  4. Flycatchers
    • Great Crested Flycatcher
    • Trail's Flycatcher
  5. Others
    • Cedar Waxwing
    • Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher
    • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
    • Downy Woodpecker

We start with the Icterids or New World Blackbirds:

Baltimore Oriole -- the male is a beautiful flame-orange; followed by a duller female:

Common Grackle -- cruelly considered by the insensitive as a "trash bird":

The Thrushes starting with our very own harbinger of Spring:

Grey-cheeked Thrush:

Swainson's Thrush -- note buffy spectacles:

An obstructed Veery:

And, the wonderful Wood Thrush:

Vireos -- beginning with Red-eyed:

And the drab-in-looks but spectacular-in-song, Warbling Vireo:

Flycatchers -- first, a Trail's Flycatcher:

Great Crested Flycatcher:

And all the rest: Cedar Waxwing:

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher:

A tiny woodpecker -- the Downy:

And, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet:

As birders, it is but natural to harbor preferences and develop affinities for particular species or groups of species to which no universal consensus might accrue; but as naturalists, we come to the clear realization that what _is_ incontestable, however, is that in the splendid cornucopia of avian life, there is an equal role to all species in maintaining a marvelous and harmonious ecological balance in Nature. 

And, while warblers may indeed offer color, song, and splendor in migration, the contemplative birder will no less be enthused by our many thrushes, flycatchers, vireos and others that bring such wonder and amazement in their own right.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Neotropical Migration at Magee Marsh 2017 -- The Warblers

[Magee Marsh, OH. May 2017]

It is this blogger's welcome duty to report on the spectacle of neotropical migration at the fabled Warbler Hotspot that graces the Southern shores of Lake Erie and is better known to the birding populace as Magee Marsh.

Compared to 2016, this year's migration season was both erratic and below par  -- with uncooperative winds resulting in a thin volume of arrivals until mid-May when things finally picked up. This, coupled with the leaf out, made photographic observation frustratingly difficult but not entirely impossible.

Yet, in the hallowed tradition of this blog -- in dutiful (and delightful!) practice since 2012 -- we are pleased to faithfully present whatever meagre photographic pickings were obtained this season at Magee:

  1. American Redstart
  2. Blackpoll
  3. Black-and-White Warbler
  4. Bay-breasted Warbler
  5. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  6. Black-throated Green Warbler
  7. Blackburnian Warbler
  8. Cape May Warbler
  9. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  10. Canada Warbler
  11. Common Yellowthroat
  12. Magnolia Warbler
  13. Myrtle Warbler
  14. Northern Parula
  15. Nashville Warbler
  16. Prothonotary Warbler
  17. Palm Warbler
  18. Tennessee Warbler
  19. Wilson's Warbler
  20. Yellow Warbler
We start with the males (or females if no males of that species were sighted) followed by the females:

American Redstart: a striking songbird; yet, despite its name, there is actually no red in this warbler.

Blackpoll: Our long distance champion:

Black-and-White Warbler: This is one of our earlier migrants and by mid-May, it appeared that the males had gone through leaving the rearguard migration action to the females:

Bay-breasted Warbler: With dominant tones of chestnut, black and buffy cream, this is our most unusually colored warbler:

Black-throated Blue Warbler: Seen high in the canopy this season:

Black-throated Green Warbler: Many onlookers were questioning the green in the name -- a feature that's not obvious unless a full view of the back is obtained (second image):

Blackburnian Warbler: Not rare, but of rare beauty:

Cape May Warbler: The luscious shots of the males obtained in 2016 contrast with the lone sighting of a female this year (so drab, this blogger mistook her for a Pine Siskin!):

Chestnut-sided Warbler: The "Pennsylvania Warbler":

Canada Warbler: this is a late migrant and one of the main attractions at Magee:

Common Yellowthroat: For all their abundance, these warblers are not easily seen at Magee:

Magnolia Warbler: Our gaudiest warbler, the Magnolia is "over the top":

Myrtle Warbler: An early migrant at this venue:

Northern Parula:

Nashville Warbler:

Prothonotary Warbler: This is one of the few breeding warblers at this venue:

Palm Warbler: completely transformed into its breeding best:

Tennessee Warbler: oft mistaken for a vireo:

Wilson's Warbler: surprisingly well represented this season:

Yellow Warbler:

And now for the girl warblers:

American Redstart:






Northern Parula:

North American birding would be infinitely poorer without the arrival of our neotropical migrants. This feathered blessing is ours to enjoy every summer and few places afford the appreciation of the full richness of the bounty of migration like Magee Marsh.