This Morning Outside
by Diane Porter
A morning both sunny and cool filled me with gratitude for being alive and outdoors, with eyes to see and ears to hear. And then a blue-winged warbler sifted through the thicket before me, and I happened to have my camera ready. A moment of perfect happiness.
Seeing warblers is a prized event in North America. Warblers outshine and outsing many other birds. Their markings are distinctive, but because they're small, and many like thick foliage, they're often difficult to spot.
In the fall, even if you do get a good look, identifying warblers is still challenging. Although the blue-winged warbler looks almost the same in fall as in spring, many warblers look drabber than in spring and lose some of their flashier field marks.
For example, the chestnut-sided warbler at right has sides that are decidedly not chestnut in September. Also, in fall warblers seldom sing, and that takes away a huge clue to their identification.
Everyplace in North America has some warblers who spend the summer. However, for much of the continent, warblers are transients, passing through in the spring on their way north to breed, and again in the fall as they head for Central America to spend the winter. During the few weeks that they're passing through, they give birders a strong incentive to get outside every morning to see them.
For the Midwest, September is prime time for fall warbler watching. If you look for warblers, you'll find them. If you don't go looking, you'll miss them and have to wait months, until the next Warbler Express comes through.
But any time you do find a warbler, it's guaranteed to be a thrill.