Showing posts from September, 2008


From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: It’s an awfully small bird to have such a big name. The Black-throated Blue Warbler is maybe five inches long from the tip of its bill to the end of its tail. It weighs less than an ounce, even when it’s fattened up for its biggest journey of the year, which is happening right now. This warbler is on its way south, and by this date in late September, most of its kind have already headed to more southerly latitudes. Birders and non-birders could be separated on the basis of their experience with warblers. Everyone has seen birds like geese, and everyone notices pelicans or eagles if they’re arround. But warblers are different: they mostly go unnoticed by most people, even while many birders regard them as favorites. North America has more than 50 kinds of warblers – small, active, colorful birds that flit among the leaves, feeding on insects. Most of them spend the winter in the tropics, coming north in a rush in spring, while birders rush out to lo

Chimney Swift

From Home Base, Kim Writes: Chimney Swifts have always captivated me. When visible, they are constantly in motion, making it impossible to learn anything about the way the bird really looks. When I first got interested in birds, the fact that the illustration of the bird in my field guide was absolutely atrocious only added to the intrigue. A few years ago, I was working at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory's songbird banding station when we captured a Chimney Swift; a rare occurrence to say the least, since the birds tend to keep to the air and not drop down into the range of a 12 foot high mist net. We believe the bird may have been roosting in a large dead cottonwood tree near the mist net it was captured in. On the wing, the bird is 100% mystery in motion, never pausing to allow study of any detail. In the hand, the bird is one of the most unusual creatures I have ever encountered. I have banded thousands of warblers, vireos, thrushes, et cetera, and have spent what I'm s