Saturday, May 12, 2012

Black-throated Green Warblers at Magee Marsh during the Biggest Week in American Birding

I'm back home from the Biggest Week in American Birding and am already missing the warblers! I'm definitely returning next year for the event, and I'm adding a day to my stay. This year I was there Monday-Thursday, but next year I'm adding in Friday :-) I'm going to get Matty and Rick up for a few days too. Spending a week birding and photographing warblers at Magee is heaven. I loved it...

A Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens) clings to a vine looking for something to eat along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh. He was singing up a storm, and all eyes were on him!

It's easy to see where he gets the "Black-throated" part of his name. I don't think that throat could get any blacker! 

...but where does the "Green" part of his name fit in? From below he looks black, white and yellow!

You have to look on top to catch sight of the green. If you look closely, you'll see the back of his head and shoulders are an olive green color. Now the name Black-throated Green Warbler makes sense! 

Black-throated Green Warblers were everywhere along the boardwalk, and they were very vocal. I enjoyed listening to their song. Their constant singing made it easier to find them (just like with the Yellow Warblers)!
This little fellow was just passing through the Black Swamp at Magee Marsh, which provides critical habitat for migrating neotropical songbirds. He was fueling up for his long trip over Lake Erie to reach his nesting grounds further north, but even though this bird prefers cooler northern temps, you can find Black-throated Green Warblers nesting in Ohio. You just have to head to the deep gorges found within the Hocking Hills region in southeastern Ohio. In 2009 we were hiking the Old Man's Cave trail in Hocking Hills in the heat of summer when we heard this bird's call. It took a while to focus in on the bird, but eventually we found him. That's when I really started appreciating the microclimates of the deep dolomite gorges carved out by meltwater from the retreating Wisconsinan glacier 10,000-15,000 years ago. The cooler temperatures of the shaded gorges allow hemlock trees (boreal relics from seeds swept down and deposited by the glacier) to thrive and creates habitat for species that prefer the cooler northern coniferous woodlands. Within a short time of seeing the Black-throated Green Warbler, we heard and saw a Hermit Thrush--another bird that normally nests much farther north. According to the breeding bird atlas map in Peterjohn's "The Birds of Ohio," small breeding populations of Black-throated Green Warblers also nest in northeastern Ohio east of Cleveland.

For migration predictions and info on the birds being seen on the boardwalk, click here for Kenn Kaufman's Crane Creek - Magee Birding blog (covers the Lake Erie Shores and Islands Region of northwest Ohio). Click here for a nice resource on Magee Marsh.


Montanagirl said...

He is so charming - and you managed some great photos of him! I'll bet you're pretty pleased with your decision to go to Magee Marsh!!

Janice K said...

He is beautiful. Wow!

Kelly, I have so enjoyed your blog, especially all the wonderful birds you have photographed or painted these past years. Birds I would never get to see so up-close and personal. You are so gifted....Thank you so much for sharing.

Lois Evensen said...

The colors and patterns are gorgeous. You got so many different angles - amazing.

grammie g said...

Hi Kelly....Sure sounds like a thrill to be around there to see ,and photograph the Warblers, and this one is a beauty!!
I know what you mean about the names,and colors...I saw the Yellow Rump Warbler last week,but unless it flies the yellow on the rump is not visible : }

Elaine said...

Lovely series of shots!

Banjo52 said...

I remember being especially puzzled by this guy's name/label too, Kelly. Magee is the only place I've seen one, and I wouldn't have known what I was seeing if not for our expert friends. But GREEN? So thanks for clarifying.

Some labels are doozies in other ways. "Prothonotary." Huh? Been meaning to look that up for about three years now. Maybe my delay is passive-aggressive b/c I'm annoyed that anyone would come up with such a pretentious word for such a little, purty bird.

Kelly said...

...thank you, everyone for the kind words!! I'm so glad I went to Magee Marsh. I'm going back again next year and bringing Rick and Matty with me for at least a day or two. It was such a unique experience.

Banjo...I remember reading that Prothonotary Warblers were named for their beautiful golden color, which resembles the golden hoods worn by the legal clerks and notaries in the Catholic Church.