Warblers III: A corsage of Magnolia Warblers

[Back to warblers, after a week in Boston away from my personal wildlife patch, where the most exciting thing I saw was a purple finch.]

For me, many of these warblers look so similar that even after hours with a bird book I’m not sure I’ve got it right. Luckily if I register them on eBird with a photo, I will be quickly corrected if I mess up. The ones below have been through the process!!

A group of Magnolia Warblers, Setophaga magnolia, is known as a corsage, suggesting a link to the plantations and debutantes of the American South, through which it migrates en route to its winter home in Central America. In fact, it is named after the tree in Mississippi in which the species was first identified in 1810. This is a female in its first winter, with a distinctive grey neckband.

It has a barred tail, which it often fans out like this (terrible photo, but you get the idea!):

The Pine Warbler, Setophaga pinus, is dingier, but with a gentle charm:

A group of these is called a cone, easy enough to remember! Maine is the northern edge of their breeding range. Unusually among the insectivorous warblers, their digestive system adapts to allow them to eat seeds in the fall and winter.

The less common Bay-breasted Warbler, Setophaga castanea , is rather dowdy in its non-breeding plumage. This photo, as you can see, was caught when it briefly settled on a twig; this is a non-breeding female or immature bird.

Today’s final warbler is the much more striking and easy to identify Chestnut-sided Warbler, Setophaga pensylvanica,

This male is desperate to attract a mate:

They are common around me, in an area where small young saplings are moving in. I found this nest in the winter-time, and fits the descriptions and photos of one of theirs:

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