Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to Identify Warblers in the Fall

It takes a different frame of mind to identify fall warblers than the shorebirds I have been posting so much about.  While shape is extremely important in shorebird identification it is much less so in warbler identification.  Plumage characteristics can identify almost all of the warblers; especially face pattern, which can identify practically all warblers.

Adult Cape May Warbler
The difficulty in identifying warblers is getting a good look at the birds.  Many times the only look you will get  will be a partial view, so knowing as many details of each species will be important.  For example, many warblers have tail patterns that are distinctive.  As the leaves start falling off the trees, getting good looks at the warblers becomes much easier and identification becomes much easier.

Another challenge that arises with warblers is learning the differences in plumage between the sexes and ages.  In most cases the juvenile females are the most dull while the adult males are the brightest individuals.  So the same species can vary from being bright and beautiful to dull and boring depending on age and sex.

Yellow-rumped Warbler-the most common warbler to migrate through the US

One helpful skill to pick up, that will help with finding and identifying warblers, is to learn and recognize the call notes of warblers.  Usually, before I see a warbler flock, I hear them.  Once you hear them you will be able to quickly find the flock.  While many of the call notes can be identified to species, just knowing that the chips you are hearing are warblers will be a big help.

I will go into some species comparisons on my next warbler identification post.


1 comment:

James said...

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