This gallery contains 5 photos. A restless bundle of energy with a fondness for early fruit blossoms in the spring, I have had the fortune of seeing Orange-Crowned Warblers in the backyard several times this year. Early September 2015 was the first time I saw one, making a rapid circuit of the fruit trees from fence to fence.
On the very popular cherry tree for a couple of seconds (Apr 22, 2017)
f/9, 1/250, 500mm, ISO 800
OCWAs fall under the category of “blink-and-you-miss-them” songbirds. I have to actively track these warblers as they feed. They are not like other songbirds who will stop and pose for my lens. They are olive colored (and resemble female American Goldfinches), but the OCWAs found here on the West Coast tend to have more yellow in their plumage, while the ones in the East have grey heads and much more subdued hues.
Note the thin, sharp bill and subtle streaking on breast (Apr 22, 2017)
f/9, 1/250, 500mm, ISO 800
Insects are the staples of their diet, but fruit blossoms and buds are healthy and tasty, too. We never worry that these feathered friends will devastate the fruit trees — there are too many blossoms and not enough birds to cause widespread damage (at least, in our backyard). Plus, the cherry tree has never amounted to much in terms of fruit, but has made for a great natural studio. 🙂
Capturing the beauty of bird and blossom on an overcast day (Apr 18, 2017)
f/8, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 160
Although I was aware that certain sparrows were ground nesters, it surprised me to learn that OCWAs nest on the ground, too–I always figured warblers built nests in tree cavities or sturdy branches. OCWAs have one of the most wide ranging habitat of all warblers, covering almost all of the U.S. (up to Alaska), Canada, and a large part of Central America, too. So please–watch your step when walking in the forest or through the woods! They prefer habitats with trees and easy, close access to bodies of water–so the forest of 100-foot tall Douglas Firs in the backyard is perfect for our visitors.
OCWAs are constantly on the move for food (Apr 18, 2017)
f/8.0, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 160
From the final photo below, you can see why this warbler is called orange-crowned (this crown is raised only very rarely — when the bird is agitated or curious; for birds, a crown is akin to eyebrows for humans). Since we put in a battery-operated agitator last summer, the birdbath has been a real hit with our feathered friends. Moving water doesn’t just “stir interest” (pun intended), but is also ultimately is healthier and cleaner for birds (even the hummingbirds use the birdbath, although it is a bit deep(er) for them). The bathwater still gets refreshed and replenished on a regular basis. The OCWA below is fresh from its inaugural splash in the birdbath (after observing that moving water was present, and studying the best angle of approach)–you can see the droplets of water on its back feathers.
And why it’s called an Orange-Crowned Warbler (Apr 18, 2017)
f/6.3, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 400
Learn more about the Orange-Crowned Warbler by visiting its Cornell Lab of Ornithology allaboutbirds.org profile here.
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