Friday, May 3, 2013

West Virginia warblers

Southern West Virginia is dynamite for warblers at this time of year. Lots of species breed, and scads of migrants are passing through. This means birders working the varied habitats of this region will encounter a treasure trove of wood-warblers. We certainly have, on our expeditions as part of the New River Birding & Nature Festival this week.

This scrubby bank bordered by mature forest at the summit offered interesting birding this morning. Our group encountered both Blue-winged and Golden-winged warblers here, on territory and within earshot of one another. Hybrids have turned up in this immediate vicinity before.

 Also on the steep-sloped shrubland was Yellow-breasted Chat, and this beauty, the Prairie Warbler.

In stark contrast to the previous dry brushy slope, a territorial Yellow-rumped Warbler shouts out its song from the summit of a Red Spruce in the cold wet bogland of Cranberry Glades Botanical Area high in the Monongahela National Forest, yesterday. The yellow-rump was but one voice in a symphony of warblers. Joining it was Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Palm, Canada, Magnolia, and Blackburnian warblers, Common Yellowthroat, and Northern Waterthrush.

The rich forests in and around the New River Gorge are well known for Cerulean Warblers, and this one put on quite a show for our party this afternoon. Some of its companions included Hooded, Black-and-white, and Worm-eating warblers, Ovenbird, and American Redstart. Work other nearby habitats such as piney woods and river bottoms, and you'll add even more species to your warbler list.

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