Pine Warbler

Hey guys, welcome back! Well, we’ve made it to our first warbler. Warblers are considered by many to be the stars of spring migration. There are dozens of warbler species, nearly all of which share a couple of common traits; they’re very small, they don’t stick around long, and they are brightly colored (usually with at least some yellow on them.) Now, not all warblers share these traits (especially if you live in the northern part of the country, or Canada where they breed), but my experience with warblers has been like this. Central Park in particular is known for its high concentration of warblers, which brighten up the park beginning usually in April and lasting until the second week of June

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Pine Warbler (winter plumage), Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

Found only in the eastern part of the U.S., the Pine Warbler has one of the smallest ranges of any warbler, wintering in the southeast and breeding in the northeast and extreme southeastern Canada (most warblers spend their winters in the Caribbean, or Central and South America, breeding in central or northern Canada.) The Pine Warbler, at least in NYC, was always one of the first two warbler species to arrive in spring, along with the Palm Warbler (though there are a couple species that do winter in the area.) Now you would think from its name the Pine Warbler is found up in pine trees. Even on Cornell’s website it says that they are “rarely seen away from pines.” Funnily enough, in my personal experience, I’ve rarely seen them near pine trees! In fact, every spring like clockwork, the first place I’d see Pine Warblers in Central Park show up was feeding on the ground of the Great Hill, at the northern end of the Park! Even the first one I ever saw, I saw in an oak tree!

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Pine Warblers not in a pine tree, Central Park, NY

Visually, Pine warblers are somewhat nondescript, as far as warblers go. They are a bright yellow, with darker wings (usually a grey or olive) with white wingbars. They have faint dark streaking on their breast which sometimes isn’t at all visible, and also usually sport a faint yellow eye ring. Females are duller, and the birds in fall are duller overall and can become more confusing to ID. Fall warbler ID can be a topic all its own, and even some guides have “confusing fall warbler” sections devoted to the subject. Don’t worry, we got lots of warbler species coming up, but our next bird is far from a warbler. It’s even featured on the Canadian dollar. That’s right, next up is the Common Loon! See you all then.

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