A Few Spring Wood Warblers

Spring migration for the “land birds” is pretty much over.  As usual, I am not happy with the amount of photos I was able to get of these guys as they pass by.  But, I did enjoy every moment I got to spend trying.  Here are a few that I have gotten around to processing so far.  These were all caught at Monsanto’s World Headquarters, one of my favorite migration traps in the StL metropolitan area.

A large warbler, the Bay-breasted Warbler is a rather uncommon migrant.  The lighting was terrible in this scenario and caused a good deal of C.A. However, this was my first usable image of this species.IMG_3443

Lovers of the tree-tops, I find that Northern Parula are easily heard but more difficult to spot.  They can be found in large numbers across Missouri and do nest throughout the Ozarks.


The oh so cute, Palm Warbler, or “Palmies” are one of the species I seemed to spot more often than normal this spring.  These guys are usually found on or near the ground on lower tree branches and bushes.


The Blackpoll Warbler’s migratory trek is one of the longest of all the songbirds.  These guys nest throughout the northern boreal forests and go as far as northern Alaska.  They winter in South America.


 Finally, the bird pictured below is the Black and White Warbler.  More abundant and easier to spot, these birds behave much like the nuthatches – climbing up tree trunks and looking under limbs for their arthropod prey.


Blackburnian Warbler

Relying highly on the abundance of spruce budworm populations in their boreal forest nesting grounds, Blackburnian Warblers numbers will rise and fall dramatically with numbers of this insect prey.


“Blackburnian Warbler, May 2013”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/5.6, 1/200 sec

An Endangered Species Visits Monsanto’s World Headquarters

One of my favorite things about my job is that I work at one of the best songbird migration fall spots in the St. Louis metropolitan area.  On Monsanto’s Creve Coeur campus is found a parcel of “unused” wooded acres that are set aside for wildlife and employee recreation.  A couple miles of trails and associated edge habitats makes for prime spots for the birders of our campus to work on a very unique form of repetitive stress injury, which we call “warbler neck” 😉  And birders do we have!  I have been fortunate enough to learn so much from a handful of world-class birders in the six years or so I have been dabbling in birds.  We are now entering the last few wonderful days of the songbird migratory peak within our section of the country.  What I wanted to share in this post is an experience we had a couple of weeks back that will likely never happen again.

On Thursday, April 18th a terrific storm front moved through the Ozarks in a general southwest to northeasterly course.  Sarah and I took this Thursday and Friday off from work and spent it down in the Current River watershed.  On Friday, my coworker and avian super-freak, Josh Uffman,  found what looked to be a very odd-looking and sounding Black-throated Green Warbler.  At first, he did not realize what he stumbled upon and went to look this up in the field guides.  He then realized his discovery, the arguably most endangered Wood Warbler to be found on this continent, the Golden-cheeked Warbler.

Nesting in only specific woodlands containing Ashe Junipers in central Texas, GCWA numbers have declined dramatically by the clearing of these habitats.  One bit of disgusting information I read while researching this was that just prior to the placement of this bird under federal endangered species act protection and the IUCN red-list, much of this bird’s critical habitat was cleared by landowners who selfishly wanted to profit from these resources.  The most current numbers I could find give estimates of between 5,000 and 10,000 breeding pairs.  It is most likely that this bird was moved along by this storm.

What is nice for me is that this bird stayed on our campus for a relatively long period of time.  When I arrived on Monday it was still here.  It was very difficult to get good looks and with nearly two hours of hunting I was awarded with less than 60 seconds of viewing time.  The photo below is the best that I was able to achieve.  I do think I was the last person to see it on our campus as it was not found the following day.  My photo is usable for documentary purposes, but please have a look at Josh’s great pics and videos taken in days prior.


“Golden-cheeked Warbler!”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF500mm f/4.5L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/7.1, 1/1250 sec

Wilson’s Warbler

I realize I missed the focus on this one, but the little guy was posed so nicely.  I figured this was a species that would take a lot of time and patience to capture, and I was very surprised to get this much.


“Wilson’s Warbler, Autumn 2012”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/5.6, 1/400 sec


“That thing called ‘nature study’, despite the shiver it brings to the spine of the elect, constitutes the first embryonic groping of the mass-mind toward perception.”

-Aldo Leopold-


“Tennessee Warbler – Autumn Migration 2012”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 500,  f/5.6, 1/640 sec

Chestnut-sided Warbler

“To him who seeks in the woods and mountains only those things obtainable from travel or golf, the present situation is tolerable.  But to him who seeks something more, recreation has become a self-destructive process of seeking but never quite finding, a major frustration of mechanized society.”

-Aldo Leopold-


“Chestnut-sided Warbler”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/5.6, 1/1000 sec