Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Early Bird

While I was talking on the phone I glanced out the window at a feeder filled with goldfinches and purple finches. I noticed a bird that seemed different. I quickly excused myself from the phone call, grabbed the binoculars and my camera and edged into a position where I had a clear view of the bird. The beak was too slender for a goldfinch; white wing bars, yellow-green head, yellow throat…

Pine Warbler Dendroica pinus

The Pine Warbler is one of the first warblers to return to the North in spring, arriving as early as February in areas just north of the wintering range. It is one of the earliest breeding warblers too, starting in late April or May in the northern part of the range.

They are aptly named, for they prefer to nest and forage in pine woods and tend to stay near the tops of the pine trees. This is the only warbler that eats large quantities of seeds, primarily those of pines. This interest in seeds often brings them to bird feeders where they supplement their diet of insects and spiders by eating suet and frequently picking out a seed here and there. This particular bird was enjoying suet and sunflower seeds.

A helpful bit of information is that no other bright yellow-breasted warbler (lacking other conspicuous field marks) has white wing bars.

The term warbler is a misnomer for many in the family but the musical trill of the Pine Warbler is a delight. Pine Warblers are generous with their songs; in the summer they will sing into the heat of the day and on warm days in the winter they will brighten woods and your heart with the sweetness of their music.

I think it is easy to confuse the Pine Warbler, the American Goldfinch and the Yellow-throated Vireo. The resemblance between the Pine Warble and the winter plumage of the American Goldfinch is superficial but I may often miss the warbler in the midst of the Goldfinches that flock to our feeders. Much more confusing is the difference between the Pine Warbler and the Yellow-throated Vireo that also nests on our property. Both have yellow spectacles The Yellow-throated Vireo prefers the canopy of the broadleaf woodland. Since we have heavily mixed pines and deciduous broadleaf woods, the property attracts both species. Their songs are probably the most useful way to differentiate between the two species as they work through our woods. The song of the Yellow-throated Vireo is described as a harsh repetitive two or three note phrase. de-ar-ie come-here or burry tweoo twowee three-eight while the call of the Pine Warbler is a slow musical and somewhat melancholy trill on one pitch, a soft sweet version of the trill of the Chipping Sparrow


Blogger boredomrebel said...

THAT IS SO COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
seriously I didn't know any of that. This offically means spring is here right?

10:17 PM  
Blogger harmonyinline said...

Pine Warbler wonderful,incredible photos.

10:23 PM  
Blogger LauraHinNJ said...

Lovely photos! Pine warblers are hard to see here - have to catch them when they're passing through. I was lucky this year and saw one!

10:25 PM  
Blogger Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Love the last photo the best... although all of those birds were good. ;-)

11:21 PM  
Blogger Pam in Tucson said...

BRAVO!! What a great series. I don't know the Pine Warbler and was delighted to be introduced with such charming photos and grand information. Great flight shot! You're definitely mastering the lens.

P.S. I love your comment on cynthia's BOOK post. Gave me a wonderful chuckle to end the day.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Sky said...

OMG, the last picture is thrilling to see! All the photographs are beautiful! And, thanks so much for all the tips about birding. I have yet to see my first goldfinch here in the Seattle area, even though it is our state bird. I am sure one day I will finally see one. We have the thistle seed out now.

Your photography is spectacular - thanks for sharing these with us.

4:54 AM  
Anonymous gracia said...

Your pine warbler is beautiful, such wonderful photos you managed to capture... glad to have stumbled into your blog. cheers, gracia

7:06 AM  
Blogger kerrdelune said...

A gorgeous warbler and beautiful photos of it, Endment. (Sigh), I have yet not seen one here this year but I am hoping.

8:24 AM  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Beautifully done. Like Cynthia I like the last photo best - if it's possible to choose. I like the way you describe the song as well - I can just hear it!

9:58 AM  
Blogger Joy Eliz said...

what fantastic photos! especially the last one...very neat!

10:00 AM  
Blogger GreenishLady said...

This is a wonderful introduction to a bird I've never seen. I'm really enjoying your descriptions - and the photos are marvellous. My knowledge of birds is superficial at best, and this is something I'm really wanting to remedy due to your beautiful posts.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Karen said...

The motion of the wings on the last one is just heavenly, but they are all so enchanting to see.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

So beautiful, endment. I've never seen the pine warbler. What a sweet-looking bird. Each photograph captures some essential quality. So lovely.

1:26 PM  
Blogger lil' ol karebear said...

listening to birds this morning
and i thought of you..

have you heard of
you might injoy some of the tunes!

in flight,

2:20 PM  
Blogger lené said...

What a great piece, endment. Your writing is engaging, and coupled with the great photographs, I kept wanting to read more. That last shot is AMAZING!

3:09 PM  
Blogger In Otter Space said...

Amazing amazing amazing photography!

I really needed something amazing today. Thank you!

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



Your photos are superb!

I'm coming to this "feeder" regularly.


9:43 PM  
Blogger Nan said...

How do you get such fabulous photos? You are so talented!

12:03 AM  
Blogger Endment said...

welcom to my site - glad you liked the warbler

harmony in line
isn't he beautiful?

they were nesting here last year, I am hoping they will spend the summer with us again.

cynthia e. bagley
i couldn't pick a favorite - I ended up with nearly a dozen more photos glad you liked the last one.

pam in tucson
thanks for the encouragement - it is a bit of a challenge to learn to use this camera but an even greater challenge is learning photo shop ---

hope you see your goldfinch soon. we had about 30 goldfinches resident during the past winter but we have a huge flock of migrating goldfinches here now.

thanks for coming by and for your comment

the pine warbler is certainally not the most spectacular warbler but as he is the first of the season he is greatly treasured.

if you would like to hear the song you can click on All About Birds - Cornell on my sidebar and listen to a recording of his song.

joy eliz
many thanks

glad you are tempted to join the rest of us amatuer birders - hope you have fun

enchanting is the right word

rexroth's daughter
the pine warbler is fairly common on this property. Of course we have lots of pines :)

lil' ol karebear
thanks for the bird song site -

I always wonder whether to post the in-flight photos --- no matter how fast my camers setting they always blur - glad you like it.

in otter space
thanks - hope your day is filled with amazing things

blue poppy
i will get out the binoculars and watch for you

the birds come, I point the camera and click - I am told it simply takes lots of practice so i am practicing.

11:27 PM  
Blogger g said...

Nice shot of the pine warbler on the wing!

Birds in flight are always amazing grabs. We just don't get to see the wings of any bird while they are flapping.

When the camera stops the action, the wings are seen as gossamer thin, delicate and incredibly strong at the same time.

Great shot!

2:58 PM  

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