Here's an adult female Bay-breasted Warbler looking similar to him, but note her mottled blackish cheeks and split eye-ring, a good way to tell the adult female. The nice thing about spring warblers is that they're so colorful, unlike fall, when many change to duller and more difficult to ID plumages.
Here I am with hubby on the boardwalk that goes through a small patch of woods where all the warblers are, right at the edge of Lake Erie. For you camera tech heads, I have my Canon 1D Mark II camera with a 300 mm IS lens, and a 1.4 teleconverter. I also have a Canon flash with a flash extender on it. Since the warblers were often in shadow, or dim light, I used the flash for a soft, "fill flash" effect and bumped up the ISO to 400 in order to use a faster shutter speed. Using a fast shutter speed is essential because, as you know, warblers move fast! Using a slower shutter speed would make their photos blurry. I was struck by how many, many birders had cameras with them, maybe about a third to half the birders there. I often got asked about my flash unit and what that thing was on it, the flash extender, sometimes called the Better Beamer.
Here's a male American Redstart. Love the way his tail is fanned, something Redstarts frequently do. Look at the interesting undertail pattern of black undertail coverts, then an orange band, then a black tip. The majority of looks at warblers in this environment is from the underside. So knowing the pattern of the undertail coverts of warblers can be a big help in identifying them. That's why we put a drawing of each warbler's undertail coverts in our Stokes Field Guide To Warblers.
Here's a beautiful, female Black-throated Green Warbler, but where's her black throat? She's a first year female and does not have as black throat yet as do many adult females. The throat on females is variable, from less to more black, but not as much as the adult male shown below. First year spring female warblers often have more subtle colors, and their identification is more diffcult. We heard a number of birders struggling with the ID of some of the first spring female warblers.
Northern Parula Warbler, male. The males vary in how much black and chestnut they have across their breast.
High in a tree we saw this Cape May Warbler, male, with his striking chestnut cheek patch. You can see why we call warblers the crown jewels of the avian world.
Warbler photos, © Lillian Stokes, 2007