Wilson’s Warblers

This gallery contains 4 photos. One of the smallest migratory birds to visit the Pacific Northwest during the breeding season is the Wilson’s Warbler. These highly active songbirds–another one of Mother Nature’s natural insect control specialists–can be seen flitting from tree to tree. Males sport vivid shades of yellow on their breast and belly; olive hues on their wings, tail, rump, and back of their heads; a smart black cap on their heads; a sharp and short, muddy black bill; and orange feet. They have an added cute factor, thanks to an oversized head and rotund body shape, which combine to make them look like emoji birds. 🙂

© WHSIM Wilson's Warbler on the Calamondin Bush (1200px).jpg
My FOY Wilson’s Warbler on the calamondin (mini) orange bush (May 10)
f/11, 1/320, 500mm, ISO 1000

My first-of-year encounter with [a male] Wilson’s Warbler on May 10th happened just moments after a male American Goldfinch also appeared–the latter keeping the smaller warbler off the birdbath (and onto the calamondin orange bush you see in the photo above). The tendency of these insectivores to be constantly on the move makes photographing them challenging. The cherry, plum, and pear trees flowering in the backyard in early April 2017 gave me several photo ops to capture these cheerily-colored warblers throughout most of the following month. I don’t think they are particularly skittish — just very focused on their tasks!

© WHSIM Male Wilson's Warbler on the Cherry Tree 5.jpg
Did you hear that clicking noise? Sounds like a photographer nearby (May 18)
f/10, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 2000

The females (and the juvenile males) are more color-muted version of the adult males, with greys standing in for the blacks. On one memorable day in May, I observed a total of three Wilson’s Warblers in the backyard: two adult males could be seen vying for the attentions of the (more paparazzi-shy) female (by engaging in territorial disputes on her “behalf”). I saw the retiring subject of the two suitors but once clearly on the hybrid fruit tree.

© WHSIM Female Wilson's Warbler on the Hybrid Fruit Tree.JPG
The object of at least two suitors’ attentions, flitting from tree to tree (May 18)
f/10, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 4000

Although the Wilson’s Warbler is gifted with a beautiful birdsong, I did not hear the males sing; their tiny forms are easy to distinguish from a distance, though, thanks to the black caps and bright yellow plumage. This is the third year that I have glimpsed Wilson’s Warblers in the backyard (and sixteenth personal sighting anywhere in Metro Vancouver), but the first time I have been able to truly capture them.

© WHSIM Male Wilson's Warbler on the Cherry Tree.jpg
This “pouting” male Wilson’s Warbler looks a bit disapproving. 🙂 (May 18)
f/10, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 2000

Wilson’s Warblers do not feed on seed — but the flowering fruit trees (with plenty of insects in them) in the backyard definitely got their attention — and so, to our delight, 2-3 of these songbirds stayed throughout much of May 2017. I wonder if any bred in the neighborhood (Wilson’s Warblers are widespread throughout much of Canada in the summer, and even to the northernmost points of Alaska)–with several 100-foot Douglas Firs, we literally have a forest in the backyard for their use. To learn more about the Wilson’s Warbler, please visit its Cornell Lab of Ornithology allaboutbirds.org profile.

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