This is the time of the season when banders are beginning to grow weary as a result of having been up with the birds since the end of August, faithfully following the fall songbird migration—now coupled with the double duty of studying Northern Saw-whet Owls by night. Though we are tired, I think we’ll all agree that there’s no greater contentment than being a part of Nature’s changing of the seasons; the goldenrod and other wildflowers have gone to seed and taken on their fuzzy winter coats, nights have grown quiet in the absence of crickets and katydids, and the Hunter’s Moon illuminates the rattling hedgerows and blue carpeted trails by night.
Mornings last week were cold and windy, but Tuesday was still productive. Banders pushed through their delirium and processed 47 birds of 17 species. The showstoppers were two gorgeous After Hatch Year male warblers, stunning even in their dull winter plumage: a Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) and a late Magnolia.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a hardy species that breeds in Pennsylvania and coniferous forests farther north. They can overwinter here in PA or south in the tropics. This common warbler can overwinter farther north than other warblers, owing to its ability to switch its diet from insects to waxy berries like bayberry and even poison ivy.