Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Mystery Bird

I went to a nearby state park this morning looking for warblers with my friend Ray.  On arrival, the woods were alive with bird calls. There was this one rather large warbler that was always deep in the bushes and looked like nothing I could recall.  I kept referring to my condensed warbler guide and there was always one or two small details that did not fit. Could it be a Nashville Warbler?  Not with the yellow wing bars. 

So it went with this mysterious little bird.  I soon moved my attention to the large number of American Redstarts that were swirling about and engaging in dogfights among themselves. They were more cooperative than any previous times that I can recall.   They are a brilliantly feathered bird.

I forgot about the mystery bird until I spotted one perched at eye level on our return towards the car. Unlike earlier, this one was in a more exposed location.

But wait! Look at that tail and compare it with the American Redstart above it.  It's not a warbler, it is a female American Redstart.  And,... what is in its beak?  Nest material, likely.  Follow what happened next.

She flies to the crotch in a small tree, maybe a Hawthorn.

It is nest building time.  We've come upon an eye-level nest on a park service road. As the tree leafs out, she will have a nice hidden nest in a tree with serious thorns.  So cool!

Now, I understand why the male American Redstarts were so active. This is a nesting area and the females are preparing the nests before laying eggs.

It will be interesting to follow this location. I am curious if the male will participate in feeding the young. So many such nests are extremely high and impossible to see. With care, the nest can be observed.  

Not a mystery warbler anymore, but a female that looks markedly different from the male.


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