Archive for April, 2013

Warblers, warblers, and more warblers!

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

This supplemental post is dedicated entirely to the warbler migration through the Dry Tortugas National Park, which is one of the most spectacular in the country!

Warbler species seen this migration:

Palm

Prairie

Yellow-rumped

ovenbird

American redstart

Louisiana waterthrush

Northern waterthrush

black-and-white

blackpoll

Northern parula

worm-eating

blue-winged

prothonotary

hooded

yellow-throated

Enjoy the photos I’ve added of regular migrants seen in the last two weeks:

Profile of a blue-winged warbler in the parade ground.

Profile of a blue-winged warbler in the parade ground.

The blue-winged warbler was a particular favorite of mine, and is a less common visitor to the Dry Tortugas.

Female American redstart. No male observed yet.

Female American redstart. No male observed yet.

Worm-eating warbler foraging on a buttonwood tree in parade ground.

Worm-eating warbler foraging on a buttonwood tree in parade ground.

Pale palm warbler not quite in full breeding plumage.

Pale palm warbler not quite in full breeding plumage.

Look for the constant tail-bobbing of this funny little warbler, and note that they hang out in large groups and can be seen out in the open in the grass.

Northern waterthrush foraging in the camp site area leaf litter.

Northern waterthrush foraging in the camp site area leaf litter.

The waterthrushes, ovenbirds, worm-eating, and Swainson’s warblers all have similar feeding techniques: rustling through leaf litter on the ground under trees to turn up insects and larvae.

Black-and-white warbler in the parade ground.

Black-and-white warbler in the parade ground.

Blackpoll warbler in the parade ground.

Blackpoll warbler in the parade ground.

Beautiful northern parula on the heli-pad by the south beach.

Beautiful northern parula on the heli-pad by the south beach.

These multi-colored beauties are not shy of people and are not afraid to hop down to a low branch and sing right in front of you.

Male hooded warbler on the south helipad.

Male hooded warbler on the south helipad.

Female hooded warbler foraging in the parade ground.

Female hooded warbler foraging in the parade ground.

These are mostly early migrants, but the two later species yet to be seen at the Park include the Swainson’s warbler and black-throated blue warbler.

Happy birding!

–Chelsea B.

 

After last week’s cold front, the migrants keep coming

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Happy April, Dry Tortugas birders!

I hope everyone is having a fun and productive spring migration season this year. We haven’t even reached peak season out at Fort Jefferson yet, but even the casual birder is racking up at least 30-40 species in a day trip out to the Park right now.

The sooty tern chicks have hatched (according to NPS biologists), so the young birds should be fledgling and visible on the shorelines of Bush Key in the coming weeks.

I’ve posted some photos of regular migrants to the Dry Tortugas, and will post an additional warbler post dedicated to the colorful little birds.

One lonely glossy ibis has been hanging out with a large flock of cattle egrets in the parade ground, browsing for insects.

One lonely glossy ibis has been hanging out with a large flock of cattle egrets in the parade ground, browsing for insects.

On this gray kingbird, notice the bulkier overall size, heavier bill, and the head that lacks the distinctive black cap of the eastern kingbird.

First gray kingbird of the season. These tropical migrants will be nesting in the Keys during the spring and summer.

First gray kingbird of the season. These tropical migrants will be nesting in the Keys during the spring and summer.

The songbirds are bright, singing, and abundant in almost any tree in the parade ground or near the camp sites, and several accipiters are still present, including kestrels, merlins, and a pair of peregrines.

One of several merlins present for the last week in the parade ground. The resident kestrel is not too happy having to defend its territory against the marauders.

One of several merlins present for the last week in the parade ground. The resident kestrel is not too happy having to defend its territory against the marauders.

Male scarlet tanager seen last week in the parade ground.

Male scarlet tanager seen last week in the parade ground.

Male summer tanager has been present for at least a week.

Male summer tanager has been present for at least a week.

Notice the key difference between the eastern US’s two most common tanagers: the black wings present in the scarlet, and lacking in the summer.

The first observed yellow-billed cuckoo of the season.

The first observed yellow-billed cuckoo of the season.

A very elusive bird, they flush from the trees when startled, so you must look carefully for this well-camouflaged bird.

Female yellow-bellied sapsucker on a buttonwood in the parade gorund.

Female yellow-bellied sapsucker on a buttonwood in the parade ground.

Three unique birds seen (and confirmed by photograph) by other birders at DRTO but not by myself include: Antillean nighthawk, Antillean (or Arawak) owl, and American golden plover.

Good luck and hope to see you out at the beautiful Dry Tortugas!

Happy Florida Keys birding,

–Chelsea B.

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