Last week, my good friend Donna and I decided it was about time we saw some warblers. After a little location research, we were on our way to Ashbridges Bay. We saw, as always at the bay, a great variety of birds flying among the trees, including a couple of red-winged blackbirds making a nest, and lots of water birds, such as a few long tailed ducks yodelling in the water.
Once we reached the west point we discovered a few other birders looking for a yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens). The chat is quite rare to spot as it is considered an endangered species in Ontario. Luckily Donna noticed it by the water and I was able to get a couple of photos. Our sighting lasted just five seconds before the little chat was gone. This medium sized (18cm long) yellow-breasted bird has a long tail, olive-green back, a white belly and under-tail, and white circles around its eyes.
After this we were back to looking for warblers, and did not go home disappointed. We found a series of trees so full of warblers I don’t think I could have counted them if I tried. We had some amazing views of chestnut-sided, magnolia, and blackburnian warblers. If you’ve ever wanted to see one yourself, this is the place to go.
So why do people love warblers?
Warblers are often referred to as the butterflies of the bird world. They’re small, colourful, and extremely active insectivores. They arrive in spring and leave in the fall, giving birders almost three full seasons to enjoy them.
Warblers are small birds with short beaks and their colour ranges from duller blacks, grays, olives and greens to amazingly bright colours such as yellow, orange, blue, and red. My favourite is the blackburnian warbler, which is distinguished by a black and white body, bright orange neck, and a beautiful song.
Because there are so many varieties of warblers, they make a great species for the novice birder learning to differentiate between similar birds.
It was another amazing day with many wonderful bird sightings. When searching for warblers be very careful that you do not strain your neck looking up and up and up. Birders called it “warblers neck,” and I’ve had it a few times. Fair warning: it took a little physiotherapy and massage therapy to get my neck back to normal!
Ann Brokelman is an avid birder and nature photographer – naturephotosbyann.blogspot.ca