Warblers fun to spot come May

Posted May 18, 2009, at 3:38 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:38 a.m.

Fields Pond Audubon Notebook

Warblers are the joy of May for birders. They move quickly and don’t come to feeders. To see them, you have to go the edges of the woods or wetlands.

Redstarts are starting to arrive. They are a species of warbler that spends their winter in South America, flying north in spring as far as Maine and Canada. I saw my first redstart of the season flitting around as it snapped at insects. It would land on a branch, then quickly fly off to catch another insect.

Male redstarts are black and orange; females are gray and yellow. They have bristles around their bills that help them catch their prey. It’s a joy to watch them in action as they fan their black-and-orange tails.

Common yellowthroats have arrived from Central America and Cuba. The male looks like a bandit, with its black mask. Male yellowthroats also have a bright yellow throat and breast; the female is not quite as bright in color and she blends well into her environs.

I recently saw a yellowthroat as it popped out of the low shrubs along the cattail marsh at Fields Pond. Yellowthroats are abundant in and around shrub wetlands.

I also recently saw a male Blackburnian warbler with the brightest orange I’ve ever seen on its throat and breast. The color looked almost florescent. It was in a hemlock tree, hopping from one branch to the next, looking for insects among the needles; once it flew out and snatched an insect from the air. It makes its nest on a horizontal branch of a tall hemlock or another coniferous tree. It will head back to South America in late summer.

All birders will be savoring the beauty of these tiny, hyperactive, colorful birds between now and August when they fly to South America for the winter.

Warblers may be seen during free Audubon bird walks at 7 a.m. Tuesday, May 19, at the Technology Park, Orono – in the parking lot behind the Microdyne building on Godfrey Drive; or on Thursday, May 21, at the Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve, Bangor – meet at the Bangor Land Trust kiosk on Kittredge Road just before the power lines.

For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.

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