Warblers – the holy grail of birding

yellow warbler

Yellow warbler Setophaga petechia 4.5-5" - habitat: moist thickets,

especially along streams and in swampy areas; gardens


 It’s warbler time out there all of you birdwatchers! Frustrating as they are to spot now that the trees have leafed out, seeing one of these tiny gems is like hitting a home run. There are lots of varieties that head through northern NJ now, so crack the books and study up. Many thrive in a water habitat and will be abundant near the lake in these next few weeks. Click here for a list of a list of birds that occur in the Morris county area.

Today’s hike on the Appalachian trail, on the Black Creek boardwalk section, was jumping with bird activity. Red-winged blackbird males vied for favor with the few females that were busy preening in the reeds. My first Baltimore oriole sang right over my head, his Day-Glo orange body glistening in the sun. A tiny winter wren chirruped and sang while tending its nest in the tall grasses. Painted turtles lazed about on logs. A yellow warbler zipped by and sang from a maple tree at the edge of the field. All in all, it was a spectacular day for a walk.

There are many great resources to help you hone your skills at birding. The Audubon Field Guide (app) for the I-Phone and I-Pad is a tool I have come to rely on for identifying birds by shape, family, name and song. There are several photographs of each bird, a map describing winter and summer ranges, a concise description that includes field marks, habitat and nesting behaviors and best of all, several recordings of each bird’s calls. Being able to recognize a bird’s song is a big help to identifying a bird when you can’t see it. In addition to honing your birding skills, the recordings really entertain my cats. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All about Birds website is exceptionally good and features birdsong recordings as well.

Get outside and enjoy the show! Watch for upcoming postings for birding hikes in our area.

red-winged blackbird

Red-winged blackbird Agelalaius phoeniceus 7-9.5" habitat: marshes,

swamps, wet and dry meadows; pastures

 baltimore oriole


Baltimore oriole Icterus galbula, 7-8" habitat: Deciduous woodlands and shade trees.


winter wren


Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis, 4-4.5" Habitat: dense tangles and thickets, coniferous and mixed forests.

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