Sunday, October 28, 2012

American Redstart & Black-and-White Warbler

There was a confusing mix of warblers passing through Wisconsin recently.  Many were so similar in appearance that only the experienced birder could identify them on the wing. 

But two warblers that are relatively easy to pick out of the flock are the American Redstart...

...and the Black-and-White Warbler. 

This female American Redstart passed over Wisconsin a month ago.  You can still see green leaves on the trees. There are occasional reports of new sightings of American Redstarts, but the migration is slowing.  I was waiting for my chance to photograph a male during this fall’s migration, but I couldn’t find one. 

This female put on quite a show for me though, flitting in the understory at eye level and slightly above, showing off her bright yellow tail patches and inviting investigation.  She wasn’t shy!  The male, which I never found, is black where the female is grey and orange where she is yellow. 

The Black-and-White Warbler is well named.  Heavily striped in black and white, it is hard to come up with a better name for it.  Unusually aggressive for a warbler, it will fight when necessary.  Equipped with a longer rear toe and claw for foraging in the trees, mostly it searches for insects, upside down and sideways.