Found in western and southern Europe and northwestern Africa, these warblers do not migrate in much of their range, making them vulnerable to hard winters in some areas. They eat mostly invertebrates, including caterpillars, butterflies, beetles, and spiders. Their cup-shaped nests are constructed near the ground in bushes. Both parents feed the chicks. They are classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN due to habitat destruction and severe winters.
Although it was named for Cape May, New Jersey, where it was first described, the Cape May Warbler is not a common sight there. It has a unique semi-tubular tongue that it uses to sip nectar in the winter.
When I got home yesterday evening, the trees seemed to be working alive with little birds. There wasn’t enough light to do proper class portraits, but I wanted to mark the arrival of our first winter residents, Yellow Rumped Warblers.
July 3, 2017 - Radde’s Warbler (Phylloscopus schwarzi)
Breeding in open taiga forest in parts of Russia, Mongolia, northeastern China, and North Korea, these warblers winter in Southeast Asia. Mostly foraging alone in low vegetation or on the ground, they eat small insects and their larvae. Their breeding season lasts from June to early August. They are easily confused with the similar looking Dusky Warbler.
Breeding in deciduous forests of the northeastern United States into Canada, these warblers winter in parts of northwestern South America. Though the majority of their diet is insects, they eat some plant foods in the winter, joining mixed-species flocks with tropical tanagers and other birds. They build their nests in the mid- or upper-canopy from bark fiber, grass stems, hair, and spiderwebs. If their first nesting attempt fails, females often reuse spiderwebs from the old nest, while gathering new lining. Classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, their population has declined by over 80% in the last 40 years, mostly due to habitat degradation.
August 17, 2016 - Golden-cheeked Warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia)
The only bird species that breeds exclusively in the state of Texas, these warblers winter in Mexico and Central America. Their diet is made up almost entirely of insects and other small invertebrates, such as spiders. Males arrive at the breeding grounds five days before the females and both return to the same nesting areas as in previous years. Females build the nests from strips of juniper bark and incubate the eggs. Both parents feed the chicks. They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN due to habitat loss in their restricted breeding range, destruction of pine-oak habitats in Mexico and Central America, and predation of nesting females by rat snakes.
August 8, 2016 - Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)
Found throughout much of the United States and into northern Mexico during the breeding season, these large warblers winter in southern Mexico and Central America. They eat spiders and various insects, picking them from plants, along with some fruits and berries. Males fight each other near the edges of their territory during the breeding season and perform display flights to females, other males, and human intruders. Females build cup-shaped nests from grasses, leaves, bark, plant stems, pine needles, roots, and hair in low vegetation. Both parents feed the chicks.
October 4, 2016 - Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum)
Breeding in forests of eastern North America, these warblers winter in Central America and the Caribbean. They eat a variety of arthropods, especially caterpillars, picking them from the leaves of low shrubs. Nesting on the ground, they build cups of skeletonized leaves lined with moss. Females typically stay on the nest when threatened, even remaining until they are touched. They then act helpless, fluttering with their wings and tails spread, in an attempt to distract predators. Chicks leave the nest around eight to ten days after they hatch.