Friday, January 13, 2012

Fall Blackpoll Warbler

 I have gone on and on about the difficulties of identifying the Blackpoll Warbler.  Posts in June 2010 and 2011 show a number of other variations of the Blackpoll and my rantings about not knowing what they are most times I see them.

What is it about the warbler that makes it more difficult than other warblers?  Well, it is a chameleon of sorts as it undergoes many changes over a short period of time.
These pictures were taken in August while the ones that follow are early to late September shots.

As summer faded away and fall began to move in the Blackpoll Warbler's yellow color seemed to have gotten richer.  The head even seems to flatten and change shape. Could this be an immature that presents with a flat head?
The amount of streaking on the sides of the breast and belly of this bird change. Yet, I now know that this is a Blackpoll Warbler.  How? Well, there are some things that don't change.
The female of this species always presents with a broken eye ring, two white wing bars, flesh color feet and a light flesh color on the beak.
When all other views fail to offer up a clear identification, it is the flesh-colored feet that are the ID give-away.
During the summer I saw very few males this year but there were many females and probably juvenile birds. They come in June and by the end of September there are none to be found.  For me this warbler ranked in the top four warblers seen in terms of frequency of sightings.
There were a number of times when I saw this species from a distance and thought that I had found something really rare only to get closer and find those unique feet.

Do take the time to search for other postings that I have made regarding this bird to see the many faces of the Blackpoll.  Just type Blackpoll in the search box and the top three items show pictures of Blackpolls with the most variation. One of these days I will pull all of the different images together in one post for quick reference.

Looking at these pictures and then looking outside today makes me long for summer. Clearly we have a long winter ahead but the unusual birding opportunities just keep coming like the Sora still at Kent Pond and the Horned Grebe sitting in fresh water in the middle of town! What happened there?  I was told that this is an experience of a lifetime.

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