Kentucky Warbler

Hey guys, welcome back. Today we have a shy little bird that is far more likely to be heard than seen. In fact, that’s the case here with me! It was June, 2017. I was working in Central Park walking through the Ravine when I came upon some of the regular birders that frequented the upper end of Central Park. I had come to know many of them, and had built up a nice rapport with them, and one of them told me he had just seen a Kentucky warbler. Well, never having seen one, I joined in on the search to re-find the bird. A number of us were looking, but since I was working I couldn’t search all day like they could. We attacked the area it was seen in from all sides, but to no avail.  As the week went by reports came in that one was spotted in the Ramble. It was unclear whether this was the same bird that had simply moved locations, or a second one, but this time it was singing. So while covering a shift at the nearby Belvedere Castle, I walked down on my lunch break to try and find it. I had brushed up on my Kentucky warbler song since I knew these birds were secretive. At this point, the park was redoing the paths in the Ramble and the area the Kentucky warbler was in was blocked off on all but one side (probably why the bird stayed there for as long as it did.) I got there and waited. After a couple of minutes it sang! There was a woman there who was also trying to find it, and the song made both our days.

What makes them so difficult to spot is that they are ground nesters, and prefer dense thickets that are low to the ground. Very difficult habitat to see into. Had I seen it, I would’ve seen a yellow bird with a dark yellow/olive back, and a cool black black cap and mask with bright yellow “eyebrow” stripes that sort of wrap around the top of the eye. They tend to stay in the southeast. Their range map shows they seldom go north of about central OH and PA, but looking at eBird sightings, there are a number of sightings stretching even into extreme southern Canada. Being a relatively short distance migrant, Kentucky warblers will “overshoot”  from time to time during spring migration. Back to the shore for the next bird. Forster’s tern is up next. See you all then!

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