Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Confusing fall warblers, I SMITE thee!

If you watch birds for any length of time, you are bound to run up against a bird you can't identify.
Fall warblers routinely fall into this category. In breeding plumage, warblers are easy if you have a field guide (and if you can get a good look at the bird, that is).

I hate ID'ing warblers. I love looking at them, but figuring out what the Hell I'm looking at gives me a headache. Kind of how I used to feel about ID'ing hawks. Hmmm.

Today, when confronted with a CFW (Confusing Fall Warbler), I bucked up and decided to figure it out. It took an hour to ID ONE BIRD.

This flitty goofball would only hold still for maybe three seconds at a time. I cursed my binoculars. I cursed the beautiful sunlight that inevitably back lit the bird. I cursed the park workers who just had to drive through when the bird got close enough to get pictures.

I ran through my field guide (Thank you, Sibley, for showing fall plumages!), observed the behavior, ruled out most of the warblers.
Two white wing bars.
Yellow belly.
Dark eye line.
Gleaning from the undersides of leaves.

Hold still, DAMMIT~
front bay breasted CFW

bay breasted CFW
For the first time, I was able to see a reddish blush on the flanks. Thank you, flitty bird, for showing me that.

CFW bay breasted
So, yes. After an hour, I ID'ed this as a Bay-breasted Warbler. It helped that it's early fall and this little guy still had some "bay" on the "breast".

If you want to see better photos than what I have, go look here.

And if you want to dispute me and tell me that there is no way that is a Bay-breasted Warbler, be prepared to make me cry and possibly call you vile names.


John said...

It looks like a bay-breasted to me.

I think that the confusingness of fall warblers is a bit overplayed. The only really confusing ones are the first fall bay-poll-pine trio, some hooded-Wilson's forms, and some forms of Tennessee and orange-crowned warblers. Other than that, most warblers should be identifiable with a good view. Of course, a good view is the big challenge.

Mary said...

Those warbler IDs might give you a headache but don't complain. YOU have WARBLERS. I have HOSP.

Good job, Susan!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that is not the rare Little Lorelei Loon?

KatDoc said...

There, there, Susan - don't cry. It can be any kind of warbler you want it to be. I won't dispute you.

Seriously, I think you've got it. That bit of color on the sides helps a lot.

Now, aren't you proud that you worked so hard and bagged that bird all on your own?


troutbirder said...

For a novice birder like myself they are almost impossible! Still having one in my hand yesterday after a window crash....

NCmountainwoman said...

You can bank on the fact that I will never dispute the identity of a fall warbler. I just love looking at all of them and I'm perfectly content to call each one "fall warbler."

Larry said...

I saw a Bay-breasted Warbler in breeding plumage up in Northern New Hampshire this year and it was much easier to identify.-If John says it's a Bay-breasted Warbler,I'll take his word for it.-All my field guides are out in my truck now and I'm too lazy to get the right now.

"I hate ID'ing warblers. I love looking at them, but figuring out what the Hell I'm looking at gives me a headache." That's how I feel when I see one that I'm unable to identify.-Most of them aren't bad but it really bothers me when I get totally lost.