Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Three Warblers

Long time readers of Viewpoint will recall that from time to time I've posted photos of some of the more beautiful species of birds that I've had the good fortune to see in the field. With the spring migration in full swing I thought I'd share some pics (not taken by me) of some warblers I've seen this week:

This is a Prothonotary warbler. It famously figured in the in the late 1940s trial of Alger Hiss who was a State Department employee who was spying for the Soviet Union. Back then communists and communist spies were considered enemies of the United States. How times have changed.

This colorful little guy is a Cape May warbler. It really has nothing much to do with Cape May, New Jersey, but it's called that because a specimen was collected there and later described by the famous ornithologist Alexander Wilson. It nests in spruce trees in Canada and can be seen during migration in the eastern U.S. It is unique among warblers in that it has a tubular tongue for feeding on liquids when insects are scarce.

This is a Black-Throated Blue warbler. It nests in the north and at higher elevations wherever there's unbroken expanse of forest. Because of this habitat requirement the Black-Throated Blue is declining as North American forests are becoming more fragmented. It winters in the Caribbean and in Central America.

Most of our warbler species are undergoing population declines, largely because of habitat loss both in their breeding grounds and in their winter homes in Central and South America. It's a shame because they are beautiful creatures.