November 5, 2011 [LINK / comment]

Another late-arriving warbler

It was just about one month ago that we had two warbler species (a Common Yellowthroat and a Nashville Warbler) show up on our back patio, and I thought it was rather late in the season for them. Wouldn't you know it, yet another such latecomer showed up at the very same place just yesterday! I saw a small grayish bird with a distinctive green back hopping among the plants in search of small insects, and I initially assumed it was probably a Kinglet, but soon figured out that it was actually a Tennessee Warbler! The dark line through the eyes and the short tail with white undertail coverts leave no doubt. We have already had several nights dipping below the freezing mark, and birds such as these that depend on insects have a tough time keeping nourished. I was hoping that this might be a new record for the latest this species has ever been seen in the Augusta County area, but alas [according to YuLee Larner's Birds of Augusta County], someone saw one in Waynesboro on November 29, 1979. I'll bet they didn't get as good a photo as this to provide definitive proof, however!!

Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler, almost certainly a male based on the dark coloration of the underside of its tail, in Staunton on November 4.

I often see Tennessee Warblers during spring migration, when they usually spend their time high in the tree tops looking for food. It's hard to get a good view of them, however, and they are one of leading causes of the common malady suffered by birders, "warbler neck." As my warblers specialized field guide notes, Tennessee Warblers can be seen in a variety of habitats during autumn migration. Indeed! Nashville Warbler before, and now a Tennessee Warbler ... Is that just a coincidence?

On Monday (which was Halloween), we had an interesting combination of birds out back: a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, [a White-breasted Nuthatch,] and some Dark-eyed Juncos.

On October 13 we had our first Dark-eyed Junco of the season out back, very early! Also a Towhee, which is unusual for this neighborhood, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. On October 11 (no school because of "Columbus Day") a Palm Warbler came to visit, and the next day we had a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, for the last time this year.

That pretty much gets me caught up with blogging about birds for now, as far as my own sightings go. Stay tuned for more...