Readers’ wildlife photos

May 25, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today we have warbler photos from Paul Edelman at Vanderbilt University. Paul’s narrative is indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

It’s springtime and an old birder’s mind turns to migration.  In particular, warbler migration.  Here are some of the warblers that have come through Nashville, some on their way north and others to settle down and breed.

Two of the many species that are just passing through are the Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea) and the Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata).  There was an unusual number of these two species, which is why I was able to get some decent pictures. 

Bay-breasted Warbler:

Blackpoll Warbler:

Of those coming in to breed we had Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia), the Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  but did not include it in the list of warblers that breed here. Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea), Prairie Warblers (Setophaga discolor), Black-throated Green Warblers (Setophaga virens), Kentucky Warblers (Geothlypis formosa) and Worm-eating Warblers (Helmitheros vermivorum).

Yellow Warbler:

Common yellowthroat:

Prothonotary Warbler:

Prairie Warbler:

Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens):

Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosa):

Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum):

We also get two birds that are considered warblers for reasons I don’t really understand.  The Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) looks and behaves a lot more like a thrush than a warbler.  The Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) looks more like a vireo and sounds more like a mockingbird.  I am sure there is a method behind this madness, but it escapes me.


Yellow-breasted chat:

Obviously there are birds other than warblers migrating to and through here.  But that will be a subject for a different post.

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Excellent photos, Paul! In reply to your comment about why birds are considered “warblers”, I will first not that all but one of the birds here are “New World warblers” (Family Parulidae). And there has never been any controversy (that I recall) about Ovenbird’s place in that family. However, you may be happy to know that the Yellow-breasted Chat, long a source of contention about its proper placement, was moved into its own family, Icteriidae (not to be confused with the Icteridae, the New World blackbirds) in 2017. A monotypic family, although there are other birds called “chats” south of the border.

  2. Ever since my move to California in 2005, I’ve greatly missed the vibrant Soring migrations of the Eastern warblers. We do have a few warbler species out West, but nothing like the bounty of beautiful warbler species back East. Thanks for these amazing photos.

  3. This is a very great set of photos, thanks. The Prothonotary photo is most excellent. What an abundance of warblers in your neck of the woods. I’m jealous! I love warblers, but only a couple species live around these parts (western WA).

  4. These photographs are outstanding. They could be used for a good bird guide atlas. Many of these photographic guides are not up to standard. Stunning photographs.
    I’ll never mix up a yellow breasted chat with a Kentucky warbler or a common yellow throat with these photos at hand.

  5. Oooooh, you live in the land of many warblers! Thank you for these photos. Yellow-breasted Chats occur here in the west too, but are uncommon enough that it’s exciting to hear their crazy calls and see their stunning lemon yellow color.

    1. Not only are there many species to be seen in Nashville, but the colour differences are striking. On the two New Zealand mainlands there is but one species, the grey warbler (Gerygone igata), a rather drab fellow with a stunning summer song issuing from high in our forest canopies. They maintain their populations despite the efforts of the shining cuckoo (Chalcites lucidus), a migrant from the Pacific Islands. The cuckoo is a brood parasite, laying an egg in the hosts’ nest. The nestling cuckoo then shoves the warblers’ eggs or chick out of the nest to have sole access to food provided by it’s warbler foster parents.

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