Sunday, May 6, 2012

May Warblers and Vireos

This morning fifteen folks showed up for my monthly neighborhood bird walk. Early May is the peak of spring migration for songbirds through the Austin area, so we usually see some birds on the May walk that we don't see during the rest of the year. And the thunderstorms last night made me optimistic that there would be lots of bird activity on Lake Creek Trail. Storms during migration stop north-bound birds and bunch them up, so in patches of good habitat you'll often find more birds just after a storm than at other times. Things started a bit slow in light rain, but we ended up finding 10 species of warblers, 4 species of vireos and a few other north-bound migrants. And the temperature was in the upper 60s and low 70s the whole time. What a morning!

A favorite bird of the morning was a brilliant male Blackburnian Warbler. These birds spend the winter as far south as northern South America and travel to the boreal forest of Canada to breed.  I got this poor photo in the bad light.

Blackburnian Warbler

A little further down the trail I was most excited to find a singing Philadelphia Vireo.
These are not nearly was colorful as the Blackburnian Warbler, but I have far fewer records of this species in the neighborhood. And it's difficult to distinguish from other similar vireos. We couldn't have asked for a better view of this individual. It was sitting still and singing, and didn't seem to mind all fifteen of us looking at it from below. This species winters in Central America and breeds a little further north into Canada than the Blackburnian Warbler. Here's a photo I got. The yellow throat helps distinguish it from the very similar Warbling Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo.

Philadelphia Vireo - 1

Other north-bound migrating birds we saw included Black-throated Green Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Least Flycatcher, and Baltimore Oriole. Here's a photo I got of the oriole.

Baltimore Oriole

And here's our complete species list for the morning.

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