[CT Birds] Introduction & Fall Warblers

Chris Petherick cpetherick at me.com
Sun Aug 28 12:25:12 EDT 2016

Hello - 

I’m new to this list and have just been reading the posts for the past few months and figured I would introduce myself.  I’m moving to Fairfield, CT in the next few months and have been trying to gain a better understanding of the birding in that area and the various hot spots throughout Connecticut.  I currently live in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, which is fantastic for birding.  I thought now would be a good time to jump in to a conversation!  

Greg’s comments are really good and I have taken to heart his #5.  I’ve done a couple of things to help with this.  First, I bought two warbler-specific resources - “Warblers of the Great lakes Region and Eastern North America” by Chris Earley and “The Warbler Guide” by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle.  The first is my quick reference guide that has good descriptions, but also some pull-out pages with pictures of both Spring and Fall plumage warblers.  The second is an in-depth guide.  I also happened upon a way to get warblers to sit still for a minute or two.  I took advantage of a natural water resource - my sump pump discharge.  I have a hose drip water into this “puddle” and I watch the puddle.  I then sit with my binoculars and, now, my camera, and with patience I have identified over 20 species of warbler at this spot. I have found this to be relevant in the field to the extent you can find a water source.  I’ve found lots of warblers on limbs around creeks and rivers.  The home version has proven to be excellent practice as well so I feel that I am better in the field because of this practice.  Water features with moving water can be such amazing attractants for migratory birds!  With the bonus of allowing much better views than you can expect when in the field.  Taking pictures has also helped, but I understand that that’s not something that everyone will do or can do.

I find fall warbler ID to be difficult, but fun and certainly doable, as I approach it knowing I may not ID every bird (Greg’s #3).

Thanks for providing a great resource for birding in Connecticut, I’m looking forward to more interaction in the future and, hopefully, meeting many of the people on this list.

Take care and enjoy the fall migration!

Chris Petherick
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

> On Aug 28, 2016, at 10:56 AM, greg hanisek via CTBirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> wrote:
> I tried to send this as a reply to an original message by Riki Soucy, but I'm not sure if it went out, so here's another ry. Greg Hanisek
> Thanks Riki for mentioning my weekly nature column, more often than not about birds, that appears every Saturday in the Waterbury Republican-American (where I worked for more than 20 years as an editor before retiring 2 years ago). I wrote the column throughout that period and for almost 20 years before that at the Express-Times of Easton, Pa., were I was a reporter and editor (and lived in NJ). It's not the first time that (a bit tongue in cheek) I blamed Dr. Peterson for birders' fall warbler phobia. I think there's some (at least a germ?) of truth to my theory that if he hadn't labeled a plate Confusing Fall Warblers people might not have started out in a defensive posture. By the way I don't think HE was confused (well maybe a little bit now and then:)
> Anyway, here are some of my thoughts on tackling the subject:
> 1/ Not all fall warblers are confusing. A number of species' adult males maintain their best plumage at this time of year and beyond. Don't give up before you get started by assuming it's going to be too hard.
> 2/ Remember that warblers can be difficult at any time because they're small and fast moving. Every time I go out and encounter a number of warblers, some (sometimes a lot) go unidentified because I just didn't get a good enough look. Instead of being discouraged by those concentrate, on getting good looks at a few.
> 3/ Nothing beats quality time with a field guide or specialty book. If you study them in a systematic way you can build up a mental catalog of features such as wing bars, face patterns, undertail colors etc. that help narrow down possibilities. There are now many online resources as well, but beware that unlike carefully edited books, the Internet is rife with bad information along with the good. Always consider the source with cyper-searches
> 4/ In you enjoy warblers in the spring, you may already know more about fall warblers than you think. Quite a few show subdued patterns that are nonetheless shadows of the typical spring plumage. 
> 5/ Tackle species one-by-one. For instance Black-and-White Warblers are going to show very little change (beyond sex difference) while adult male Blackpoll Warblers are going change completely.
> But none of this will be of any use unless you dive in and work at it.
> Greg HanisekWaterbury 
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