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Posts Tagged ‘Setophaga palmarum’

When I first saw this bird bouncing around on the ground on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I thought that it might be a sparrow. Then I caught a flash of yellow as the bird wagged its tail and I realized that it was a Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum).

Most warblers forage high in the trees, where they are difficult to see. The Palm Warbler, however, forages mainly on open ground or in low vegetation, making it marginally easy to spot and to identify.

Palm Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Warblers are migrating southward through my area at this time of the year. Although I can sometimes hear them, most often they stay hidden behind the foliage. I was happy therefore when I caught site of this Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum), one of our most common warblers, this past week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

When I initially spotted this little bird, it was feeding in the grass, as shown in the second image. The warbler was part of a small group and all of them appeared to be really skittish and took to the air when I was still a long way off. Fortunately one of them flew into a tree and paused momentarily, allowing me to get a mostly unobstructed shot of it.

Most of the warblers remain in our area for a short period of time, so I am never confident when or if I will see any of them. I guess that the best way to increase my odds is to spend more time outside with my camera at the ready.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I spotted my first warbler of the spring, a Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum). For several weeks, I have been diligently searching the ground and the trees for warblers, whose appearance marks the beginning of spring for some birders. It was not surprising that the first one I saw was a Palm Warbler, because they are traditionally one of the earliest species to arrive, but I was a little surprised to find several of them at water’s edge, poking about in the rocks and the debris. In the past, I have most often spotted them on the grassy trails.

I was not able to get close to these little warblers, so my normal temptation was to crop my images, as I did in the first one, in order to highlight the bird. As I was working on the second image, I decided I liked the idea of including more of the environment, even though it is a bit cluttered. What do you think?

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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In the autumn, various species of warblers fly through our area as they migrate south and I spent a large amount of time this past Friday trying to get shots of what I believe were mostly Palm Warblers (Setophaga palmarum). Warblers in general are tough for me to identify, even in the spring when the colors and patterns on the birds are bright and distinctive. At this time of the year, however, all of the colors and patterns are muted and many species look really similar to me.

Palm Warblers are a little easier to spot than most warblers to identify, because they often can be found pecking away on the ground rather than in trees, as you can see in the second shot. Although I usually strive to get unobstructed shots of my subject, the first image is my clear favorite of the three in this posting. The branch in the foreground that partially blocks the bird helps in the composition, I think, and reinforces the sense of the elusiveness and caution of this little warbler.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As soon as I saw the flash of yellow, I knew that these little birds were almost certainly warblers and not sparrows. When it comes to most warbler species, that’s the full extent of my identification skills. Most years when the warblers come through our area in the spring and in the fall, I can hear the warblers in the trees, but I rarely see them.

I initially thought that the bird in the first shot was a Yellow-rumped Warbler, but it turns out that my knowledge of bird anatomy is lacking. The area that is yellow on this bird is the undertail area and not the rump, which is more on the top. So what are these birds? A helpful birder in a Facebook forum identified them to me as Palm Warblers. (Setophaga palmarum).

With a little luck, I’ll get some more shots of warblers in the coming weeks and will undoubtedly have to rely on others to assist me in identifying them, though I need no help in appreciating their beauty.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Warblers are so small and hide so well in the trees that I almost never see any. This past week, however, I spotted a flash of yellow in the distance and I was able to capture some shots of what I have been told is a Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum), though it is hard for me to confirm the identification, considering how much many warbler species look almost alike.

I took these three shots from the same spot on the boardwalk at my local marshland park as I looked across a field of cattail and other vegetation. It’s interesting to note how much the feel of the photos changed as the warbler moved from perch to perch.

Normally I try to get close-up shots of my subjects, but I decided not to crop in on the first image, which reminds me of a Japanese ink painting with its sparse use of color and emphasis on lines and shapes. The background was so interesting in the second image, that once again I did only a minor crop. In the third image, my favorite element is the warbler’s tail.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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