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Monday, August 18, 2008

Fall Warbler Migration Timing

Black-and-white Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Warblers are beginning their migration. We had fun this morning, searching our property for early moving warblers. Fall warbler watching is different and more nuanced than spring. Males are not singing conspicuously from perches on their breeding territories. Instead, you have to watch for movement in bushes and listen carefully for the different little chip sounds each warbler species makes. In addition, some warbler species change from their bright breeding plumage into more sublte colors.

Recently we saw a Black-and-white Warbler. This morning we saw a Prairie Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and two Common Yellowthroats. People often don't realize you can see migrant warblers as early as August. Warbler migration can extend into October and beyond.

From our Stokes Field Guide To Warblers here's a list of which warblers to be on the look-out for. Dates refer to the earliest times these birds may move, when the first birds start to migrate south, obviously there is overlap in their migration:

For the East

Early (Begins before 8/1)

Cerulaean Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Prairie Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler

Middle (Begins between 8/1 and 8/20

American Redstart
Black-and-white Warbler
Blackburninan Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blue-winged Warbler
Canada Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Northern Parula
Northern Waterthrush
Prothonotary Warbler
Swainson's Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Yellow-throated Warbler

Late (Begins after 8/20)

Bay-breasted Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Connecticut Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

For the West

Early (Begins before 8/1)

Colima Warbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Lucy's Warbler
Yellow Warbler

Middle (Begins between 8/1 and 8/20)

American Redstart
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Grace's Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Red-faced Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Tropical Parula
Virginia's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat

Late (Begins after 8/20)

MacGillivray's Warbler
Olive Warbler
Painted Redstart
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Birding is often about knowing who to look for when. If you have a sense of this, you will be much more likely to see interesting birds and expand your horizons about the complex lives of these beautiful warblers we share the planet with.


Maria Olson said...

Hi, my name is Mckay. I am 11 years old and my favorite thing to do is birding. I have 4 of your books and I love them all. I have Bird Gardening Book, Hummingbird Book, Birdhouse Book, and Birdfeeder Book. I plan to get more of them too. Thanks for all the information about birding.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Good information - thank you. Had a Yellow-rumped this afternoon and an immature Common Yellowthroat about a week ago.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, this is really helpful! Now I can get a jump on those elusive Louisiana Waterthrushes!

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. Helpful!

But note the difference between "dispersing" wood-warblers and those that are "migrating."

It's an important distinction.

Sometimes, some wood-warblers you're seeing in July and August are merely "dispersing" in an area as they forage (and add fat reserves before actually migrating to non-breeding grounds).

Other times you can see a wood-warbler (and perhaps of the same species) and it may possibly be on true migration (yet laying over during the day time episode by which you spot it).

So, it's difficult to know 100% for sure whether any one wood-warbler individual you see in July or August is either "dispersing" or "migrating."

Cheers to the Stokes and their passion and educational goodness.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the Stokes' views.

That said, I have respectfully disagree with using 8/20 as a timeline boundary.

An improvement would be to classify the wood-warbler species into "early," "medium," and "late" in terms of migration departing periods.

That's because weather and latitude of origin (i.e., the bird's breeding area) are key factors, with the former often varying from one year to the next.

Your thoughts, Mr. & Mrs. Stokes?

My opinion is a good idea?

Lillian Stokes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lillian Stokes said...

8/1 and 8/20 is simply based on records of when the very earliest birds, in each of the categories, start to migrate south. As we said, there is a lot of overlap. And we do say which would be early, middle and late. These are just guidelines.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info.
But I still am not sure when the kind of Warbler I am researching.
The Old Warbler seems to have less information on it than any other bird. Is this because it is, as it's title says, old and not around as much as,say, the New Warbler?
Thanks again for some information!

Lillian Stokes said...

We are not sure what you mean by
"The Old Warbler seems to have less information on it than any other bird. Is this because it is, as it's title says, old and not around as much as,say, the New Warbler?"
What are you referring to? A book? A species of warbler you are researching? Or what?

Milwaukeebirder said...

Just found your blog and love it. This will be the second fall Warbler migration for me. I just ordered the book and can't wait to get it. Thanks for all the great info