Hooded Warbler

Hey guys, welcome back! Today is a rather cool, but somewhat secretive bird (hence why I only have one picture of one.) Today is the hooded warbler. One look at this little guy and it’s evident how he got the name. A mostly bright yellow bird that seems to be wearing a black hood. The females have a hood too, though their is a little more faded. And the juveniles’ hoods are so faint it can be hard to see them at all! This can make juveniles difficult to tell apart form similar birds like the Wilson’s warbler. But if you can get a good enough look, you’ll probably see the hooded warbler quickly fan its tail out periodically while it’s foraging. They have white outer tail feathers, and it’s believed that the “flashes” of white prompt nearby insects to fly off, making them easier to nab!

One thing I find pretty interesting about these guys (and this is true of other bird species as well) is how the males and females spend their winters in completely different habitats. I don’t mean that the males and females are hanging out together in different habitats in winter than in summer. I mean that they hang out separately from each other in winter! Males prefer mature forests in winter, while the females are all spending their time in scrubby, flooded areas. Pretty cool. Also I think we, as humans, like to assign human traits to animals, so the idea that males and females travel thousands of miles to come together and breed, then go off and spend the winters apart is kind of foreign to us. I mean you don’t marry and have a kid in Pennsylvania, in June, then one of you goes to Cuba for the winter and the other to Belize. Or do you? I’m not here to judge!

Like many birds, hooded warblers are quite territorial. But they have been found to be able to learn the calls of their neighbors. It’s believed this is so they know whether they need to defend their territory, or if it’s just that loudmouth Bob from down the block! In breeding season, and during migration, hooded warblers love to forage in dense undergrowth, usually near water. I remember a guy in Central Park, Ron, who was out with his camera for hours waiting to get a look (and a nice shot) of one that was hanging out in the Park’s Ravine area. His patience was rewarded. Well that’ll wrap it up for today, Next time we go from the skulking understory, to the top of the canopy for yet another warbler! See you all then!

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