A Reading of Palm Warblers

My first post of 2022, sent from my truck parked outside the library because our internet is down! Clouds and fog are misting the landscape, and rain is threatening . So I’ve decided to cheer myself up by digging out some posts from greener times of year that I never sent. Here goes.

A different times of year we have many species of warbler in Maine. Wood warblers are the more proper name for New World warblers and so far I have seen eleven species. I thought I would show you a few from time to time. Most of them have their own dedicated collective noun and for a group of Palm Warblers it is a ‘reading’. Why? Who knows, but it provided the title of my post!

During the fall migration, small flocks of mixed warblers pass through, heading south. I stood in the woods by the edge of the pond and saw small flitting movements in the lowish branches. It was a Palm Warbler female, dull and brown

but then I saw a male, much brighter and more cheerful.

Palm Warblers, Setophaga palmarum, breed further north in the boreal forests, and they winter in Florida and the Caribbean, hence their name.

The next flutter at the bottom of my field of view, rummaging in the leaf-mold, turned out to be a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata, rather crudely nicknamed the Butter-butt.

Here is a first-year bird, on a branch:

The male has a yellow cap and strong black markings in breeding plumage, like this one in May:

They are pretty common in the spring as they head north, sometimes in largish flocks, and they do breed here, though mostly further north, and they winter in the southern US and Mexico.

Like all warblers, they are mainly insect-eaters. Bird of the World says that unlike other warblers they eat waxy berries in the fall, but these three were eating beggartick seeds also called tickseed, a Bidens species.

Birds of the World admits they eat the seeds of sunflower and goldenrod, but don’t mention beggartick or the closely related Coreopsis.

Have I made a new scientific discovery??

And a happier 2022 to all of you.

9 thoughts on “A Reading of Palm Warblers”

  1. We can hope that it’s a wonderful 2022…happiness & good health to all….we can all do our very best to make it so. I’d think, that like many birds, warblers have a varied seed diet. About 4 years ago in woods near here, there was a pair of black & white birds in the trees…I did get some (not so great photos)….wonderful to go online: Black and white warblers.


  2. A ‘reading’ of Palm Warblers possibly because gypsy women would claim to read peoples’ palms to foretell their future ? Dominic

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Maybe a new discovery- good for you! I’m picturing you in front of the library in your truck. Hope you’ll get internet access again soon. Wishing you a creative, healthy and rewarding New Year!


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