Everyone loves a warbler. These colorful sprites are, to many, the avian highlight of spring. I am not impervious to their charms, and one of the great things about visiting northern Michigan's Presque Isle County is the numbers and diversity of warblers. During the nine days I was there, my groups and I tallied 25 species, nearly all of them breeders.
Following are a few shots that I managed to click off, all with my new Nikon Coolpix P5100. When leading groups or otherwise engaged, I like having a higher end "bridge" point and shoot around my neck. Toting the SLR and its accouterments just isn't practical in such situations. The P5100, by the way, is AWESOME! It has an incredible 42x zoom that actually holds up well at its higher ranges, and the camera does well with macro, landscapes, and video. Hard to beat if you're looking for a versatile non-SLR camera (no connections with Nikon, me!).
The classic Chestnut-sided Warbler song ends with an emphatic "swee-swee-CHU!" Such typical songs are easily recognized, but these warblers also deliver soft jumbled whisper songs that can be impossible to separate from alternate Yellow Warbler songs.
We had an interesting experience with this bird. It was singing and foraging near our group, allowing for great looks and we were enjoying the opportunity to admire the bird at close range. Suddenly it came down low into the boughs of a spruce - 15 feet from the group - and settled in for a nap. For at least five minutes it remained stone still, and shuttered its eyes. When nap time was done, it shook itself awake and resumed activities.
Although sometimes termed jack pine "barrens", these forests are anything but stark. The botanical diversity in the herbaceous layer is great, and includes many interesting plants. The plant diversity, in turn, spawns scores of insects, which become bird food. Other avian species that share the Kirtland's jack pine habitat include Clay-colored and Vesper sparrows; Hermit Thrush; Upland Sandpiper; Nashville Warbler; Brown Thrasher; and others. I was pleased to find a territorial Palm Warbler in the habitat in the photo above. This species is expanding its range into stunted jack pine forests in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area a week or so ago. I've seen this photo several places, and apologize for not being sure of who the photographer is, although I think it may be Gunnar Engblom. Hopefully Gunnar - or whoever took it - will not mind me sharing it here.
There are only 3,600 or so Kirtland's Warblers on earth, and their charisma is evident by this photo. It's as if the bird was a powerful magnet and all of these people had iron in their binoculars. In spite of the horde, the Kirtland's Warbler probably wasn't intimidated in the least, as they are by nature tame and confiding. I'm sure many birders got their life Kirtland's Warbler here, and I'm glad for that.
Still, I'd much rather savor the birds in the lonely jack pines, with no one else around.