Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hooded Warbler and Fall Songbird Migration

Male Hooded Warbler in the Lowcountry during fall
They always seem to be on the move!
While it can come on suddenly, and then be short in duration, the fall migration of songbirds provides an uptick of activity in the Lowcountry. The first cool snap is usually enough to get birds on the move, and then periods of cloudy cooler weather associated with a North wind creates perfect conditions for them to be on the move, without getting too tired out. Typically these songbirds will be more prevalent in hardwood forests, but they are also commonly found along scrub shrub habitat along the coast.

The weather has been socked in with clouds for the past several days, with some rain, and I already began noticing changes in birding behavior. Then one morning while walking the dog I heard a distinctive 'chip chip chip' high-pitched song, and knew that a visitor was nearby. Identifying birds by ear is a way for an advanced birder to be on the lookout for a glimpse of something different, or perhaps something with vibrant colors. For instance, the song I heard was different that the one note call commonly heard everyday by cardinals.

Seen at the same time - perhaps the female?
When a male hooded warbler popped out of the bushes and landed nearby, I had to do a double take. What a beauty! I walked the dog back home, grabbed my binoculars and a camera to go back and confirm the identity of this migratory warbler. Feeding on insects both in the trees and on the ground, I was able to set up a perch in a likely spot and wait for him to return, and the plan worked like a charm. Never before had I been so close to this striking warbler, and after a lifetime of experience, I would have so say this kind of encounter is rare. So I am glad to share my story and photos here, while hoping that others keep their eyes and ears open for migratory songbirds.

The shading on this map tells the migration story
To view past blog entries about encounters with the natural world click on American Oystercatcher Bats - Snakes - Honey Bees - Wood Storks

To view my latest Birding Journal Observations click July / August 2015

To view my latest Field Notes and Photos click September 2015

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