Sunday, November 4, 2012

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The well-named Yellow-rumped Warblers could get your attention now, but certainly should next spring when they pass through Wisconsin, headed back to Canada and Alaska. 

Widespread and common, they’re still passing through, but in their non-breeding fall colors now.  Not as bold, brilliant and conspicuous as in the spring, but still highly visible.  You will have to be slightly more focused to discover them. They hang around at eye-level and above in brushy areas. 

They may still be singing in fall, so listen as well as watch.  Males sing a soft, sweet, warbled song. Without territories to defend, birds in general are less vocal in the fall of the year, but you might hear some vocalizations.

This male has molted into his less colorful form for the winter.  Still bright in comparison to other birds, he will be splendid in spring, when his blacks are blacker and his yellows are brighter, all set off against charcoal grey and white.  Make an effort to find him when he’s all dressed-up next year.

The female too will be more colorful and conspicuous in spring, although remaining brown-backed and streaked for nesting camouflage. She seems to be able to hide or display as much of her yellow rump as she wishes.  I doubt she shows any at all when she is sitting on eggs, but it’s on full display in flight and when she wants to be seen.

They will all be gone from Wisconsin soon, mainly wintering in the southeastern United States and Mexico, but spring and the springtime protocols bring them back every year.  Look for them.  

Even if you can’t identify any other bird, the Yellow-rumped Warbler should be a no-brainer.