A few leftover from my one day at Tower Grove Park on May 16, 2021.
The Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) is a through-migrant in Missouri. It winters throughout the southern Atlantic and gulf states, Mexico and parts of Central America. This vireo nests in cool temperate forests across Canada and in high elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. This is a species that will be threatened by the continued loss of the boreal forests of Canada. You can hear its sweet song in the spring in Missouri at places like Tower Grove Park where this photograph was taken.
The Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) is another weirdo in the Parulidae family. It is the only extant member of the genus, Mniotilta, and it definitely stands out against the other wood warblers that we find in Missouri. Whereas other warblers flit about the leaves at ends of branches, through bush or along forest floors, gleaning for arthropods, the Black-and-white Warbler finds another niche. It forages by hugging tree trunks and inner branches, much like a nuthatch or creeper. The interesting genus name apparently comes from another of this bird’s behaviors. This name comes from the Ancient Greek mnion, meaning “seaweed”, and tillo, “to pluck”. Apparently, Black-and-white Warblers strip mosses and reindeer lichens to line their nests, which they make in mature forests across much of eastern and central North America.
With the relatively recent removal of the Yellow-breasted Chat from the Parulidae, the title of the largest new world “wood warbler” may very well go to the Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocapilla. The Ovenbird is somewhat of a misfit itself. Seiurus is a monotypic genus, believed to have derived early in the evolution of the family. This pot-bellied, thrush-like bird nests and forages on the forest floor, getting its common name from its nest that supposedly resembles a Dutch oven.
Although the Ovenbird can be easily heard through much of the summer in any large-track deciduous forest, getting good looks and photographs is easiest by waiting to spot them in a migration trap like Tower Grove Park in St. Louis City where these photos were taken.
There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.
It looks as though I may get only one opportunity for Tower Grove Park this spring, but it was a good one. I’m glad it was a nice morning for Kathy Duncan’s first visit. We had quite a few cooperative birds at the water feature of the Gaddy Bird Garden where these photos of Chestnut-sided Warblers were taken.
Miguel Acosta and I decided, along with many other birders and bird photographers, to head to Tower Grove Park to check out the latest migrant action. Although the migrant songbirds were overall pretty disappointing, the morning was surely not a bust for me as I was able to photograph my 282nd species in Missouri and contiguous states – the Veery.
This guy’s polyphonic vocalizations have been among my favorite of bird songs for a long time. On the rare occasion these guys sound off during migration, the songs come from a deep thicket and I rarely get to lay eyes on the songster. The beauty of migrant traps like Tower Grove and Carondelet Park in the heart of the city is being able to get great looks at these northern nesters.
The BTGW nests primarily in conifers such as white pines, spruce and hemlocks in Canada’s boreal forests. Did you know…? A major source of wood pulp for the paper and tissue industry are the trees that are harvested from the boreal forests of the world. There are two easy things we can all do to limit our burden on these resources.
1) Recycle: Recycling is quite easy in much of the country and has a significant role in limiting the need for virgin wood pulp. Also consider purchasing products made from recycled paper products.
2) Limit use of unnecessary paper products: A horrible player here are solicitous catalogs and junk-mail. There are ways we can drastically reduce the pounds of this we receive in a year’s time. https://www.catalogchoice.org/ The disposable paper towels and other sanitary wipes are other industries that use significant percentages of wood pulp. There are many ways we can reduce usage of these products as well.
Yes, wood pulp is a renewable resource, and yes, humans are part of planet and will always be users of these resources. However, what many do not realize is that replanting trees is not the same as replanting natural habitat. Many bird species, including several wood warblers will only nest in specific, old-growth trees. These habitats have taken hundreds of thousands of years to develop the complex interactions of this original, world wide web. Planting a monoculture of cultivars developed to best meet the needs of man comes nowhere close to replacing the splendid diversity or wilderness aspects of these places hold.
“The only conclusion I have reached is that I love all trees, but I am in love with pines.”
“Black-throated Green Warbler, September 2012”
Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/640 sec
“The world, we are told, was made especially for man – a presumption not supported by all the facts. A numerous class of men are painfully astonished whenever they find anything, living or dead, in all God’s universe, which they cannot eat or render in some way what they call useful to themselves.”
“Black-throated Green Warbler”
Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/250 sec
“”In short, they who have not attended particularly to this subject are but little aware to what an extent quadrupeds and birds are employed, especially in the fall, in collecting, and so disseminating and planting, the seeds of trees.”
-Henry David Thoreau-