Elusive and Tricky! That's what my experience was with the Magnolia Warbler. Two evenings ago, Margie M. and I were driving Power's Road. We were delighted to find a Hermit Thrush singing loudly from the top of a tree, but on the way back out of the road, we heard something different. I had seen a Magnolia on this road last year, so I checked the sound on my machine. The bird we heard did not sound anything like the iBird version. We got out and walked around. It was surely in the tree right in front of us but ten minutes of looking it over yielded nothing. Then, the singing bird flew, and we didn't get a look at it. We hung around and beat back the flies as long as we could stand and ended up going home knowing we had missed something good.
Still curious and thinking about it a lot, I headed back to the spot this morning. I heard nothing in the area on the way up the road, but on the way back I heard it loud and clear. I stopped the car on the spot and listened. It was close and stayed a long time singing. Finally, I ventured out of the car and once again, I knew which tree it was in. Yet again, I could not see it. The temp was cold and the wind was gusting. Why couldn't I see the bird?
After about twenty minutes or so, I spotted Mike P. driving up the road and rushed to his car. "Listen. Do you know what that is?" He heard it right away and thought it was the Magnolia. Both of us pinpointed the tree but couldn't see it. After about 5-10 minutes, we saw a flutter. I raised my camera and got on it right away. It WAS the Magnolia.
It's behaviour was quite unique. It moved from tree to tree, judging by the location of the song but was never visible. It stayed fairly low in the trees and it was not possible to see it when it relocated. Perhaps motivated by the cold, blustery day, it stayed in close to the trunk of the tree. In fact, very few birds jumped out in the open today. It crossed the road at some point, unseen by us. I went in a trail in pursuit of what looked like a Redstart. When I came out with nothing, Mike told me he got a good look at the Magnolia on the opposite side of the road.
Sometimes, it just takes patience to find a special bird, and it sure is wonderful when it pays off.