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The term Warblers is applied in America to a very large family of small birds, many of which live almost wholly in trees. The number of species to be distinguished often discourages a beginner, but many are confined almost wholly to certain kinds of country, and much may be done by learning where to expect each one. The males, moreover, are generally brightly marked, often with yellow; the females and young are harder to distinguish. Half a dozen species occur commonly throughout New York and New England and are easily distinguished, both by their appearance and from the kind of country which they prefer; these are: the Redstart, wherever trees and open spaces are combined, especially near water and often near our houses; the Maryland Yellow-throat, in low bushes in wet places; the Black and White Warbler, on the trunks of trees in open woodland; the Oven-bird, on or near the ground in all kinds of woodland; the Black-throated Green, in evergreens, and the Yellow Warbler, either in the shrubbery near houses, or in the willows along water-courses. The Chestnutsided Warbler occurs nearly everywhere in New England, being absent only where extensive coniferous forests still exist; it delights in dry roadside thickets and the second-growth in clearings. The Pine Warbler is common wherever pitch pine is abundant; it breeds also in white pine groves, but is not found in the Canadian Zone. In the spruce forests of northern New England the Myrtle Warbler is abundant, occurring even in the dooryard, if spruce-trees surround the house. In wilder country, where young spruces grow, the Black and Yellow Warbler is common, and on mountains, in stunted spruce, the Black-poll is abundant.

In southern New York and New England the northern species occur as more or less common migrants in April and May, and September and October. They are to be looked for in the broad valleys of large streams, or near the coast, occurring in almost any bit of woodland or orchard along their paths of migration (see migration); they now occur in mixed flocks, often associating with Vireos and Kinglets, between which they are intermediate in size. Their songs are seldom beautiful, and often hard to distinguish; they are in full song in spring, but few sing in the fall. Several species change their plumage in the fall; the Black-poll, Myrtle, and Yellow Palm Warblers are the commonest examples of this class.

The Oven-bird, the Water-thrushes, and the Yellow Palm Warbler obtain their food on the ground; the Black and White Warbler gleans from the trunks and large limbs; the Redstart often pursues an insect through the air; the Yellowrump is an expert fly-catcher, but in winter lives largely on bay berries. The Parula and the Blue-winged Yellow often cling to the tip of a twig like a Chickadee. Nearly all the others pick their food, chiefly insects, from twigs and leaves.

AMERICAN REDSTART. Setophaga ruticilla
5.41 in.

Ad. ♂.— Head, throat, and back lustrous black; sides of breast and flanks reddish-orange; large bar across wing and tail light salmon; tips of tail-feathers black for a third of their length; belly white. Ad. ♀.— Head gray; throat grayish-white, orange and salmon replaced by yellow. Young ♂.— Resembles the female until the third year.

Nest, a soft cup, generally in the crotch of a tree or sapling from ten to thirty feet up. Eggs, thickly spotted with dark brown, chiefly around the larger end.

The Redstart is a common summer resident throughout New York and New England, absent only at high altitudes. It arrives early in May and remains through September. The male Redstart's bright colors always attract attention and excite admiration, and, unlike its rival, the Blackburnian Warbler, it may easily be seen by the beginner. It is common in the shrubbery about dwellings, and in its restless course flies from twig to twig, sometimes pursuing an insect to the ground at the observer's feet. Both sexes have a habit of keeping the tail spread like a fan, so that the yellow or salmon band is very conspicuous.

It needs practice to distinguish the song of this species from that of the Yellow Warbler, often its neighbor about our houses. The Redstart's song is less complicated: weelsee'-see' is its shortest form; wee'-see-wee'-see-wee' is another. All the phrases are on one key, and are almost never followed by the additional phrase with which the song of the Yellow Warbler ends. The male in his first spring wears the gray and yellow of the female, so that one often hears the song uttered apparently by the female.

CANADIAN [CANADA] WARBLER. Wilsonia canadensis [Cardellina canadensis]
5.61 in.

Ad. ♂.– Upper parts ashy gray; crown blackish, especially on the forehead; breast crossed by a broad band of black spots which separate the yellow throat from the yellow belly. Ad. ♀ and Im.— The blackish crown lacking; spots on breast faint.

Nest, in mossy banks and under roots. Eggs, white, spotted about the larger end with reddish-brown.

The Canadian Warbler is a migrant through southern New England and the lower Hudson Valley in the second half of May and in September. As a migrant it is found chiefly in wet woodland, where it keeps rather low in the bushes, though it may occur in dry places, and when singing often mounts fairly high in trees. It breeds from the edge of the Canadian Zone northward, occurring here and there in deep, cool swamps, even in central and eastern Massachusetts, and not uncommonly in the highlands of western Massachusetts. It is often abundant in the thickets of mountain maple on illdrained mountain summits. It is very inquisitive, and an intruder may frequently hear its alarm-note, chick, or catch a glimpse of the black necklaceacross its yellow breast as it flies low in the bushes. Its song is a rather hurried outpouring of notes, introduced by the same chick which it uses as an alarm-note. (See Magnolia Warbler.)


Canadian Warbler

WILSON'S WARBLER. Wilsonia pusilla [Cardellina pusilla]
5.00 in.

♂.– Upper parts bright olive-green in a strong light; crown black; forehead and under parts bright yellow.♀.– Black crown generally wanting.

Nest, on the ground in wet woods. Eggs, white, speckled with reddish-brown, and with lavender.

Wilsons Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

The Wilson's Warbler is a rather uncommon migrant through New England and New York, occurring in the latter half of May and in September. It breeds rarely in the extreme northern and eastern portions of Maine. Generally found in trees or bushes near water, along the edges of swamps or in the bushy borders of streams, though, like most migrants, it may appear, when Warbler more than usually common, in any suitable cover. Its song suggests to most observers the song of the Yellow Warbler; it is briefer, less lively, and ends in some rapidly delivered notes. It is a restless little bird, difficult to observe. The yellow of the under parts first attracts attention; then a glimpse of its dark back distinguishes it from the female Yellow Warbler, but a sight of the black crown bordered by the yellow forehead is necessary for an absolute identification.

HOODED WARBLER. Wilsonia mitrata [Setophaga citrina]
5.67 in.

Ad. ♂.– Forehead and cheeks bright yellow; top of head and throat black, inclosing the yellow cheeks; under parts yellow; back brown (olivaceous in strong light); outer tail-feathers white. Ad. ♀ and Im.— The black of the throat absent or inconspicuous.

Nest, in a crotch of a bush or sapling about four feet up. Eggs, white, spotted, generally about the larger end, with reddish-brown.

The Hooded Warbler is a summer resident of southern Connecticut and the lower Hudson Valley, arriving early in May and leaving in August. It is locally common along the Sound and in the Connecticut Valley, and in northern New Jersey. At Englewood and at Fort Lee, N. J., it frequents rich swampy woods, feeding either in the undergrowth, or in tall trees. In southern Connecticut it seems to prefer woods with extensive undergrowth of mountain laurel. It is an active bird, and has a loud, bright song. The song varies considerably; in some forms the opening notes have something of the wildness and sweetness of the Field Sparrow's song, and are followed by notes with an upward inflection, suggesting those of the Black and Yellow Warbler. The alarm-note is a sharp chip. The male is unmistakable; the female may be known by her yellow forehead and white outer tail-feathers.


Hooded Warbler

7.44 in.

Ad.— Upper parts brown, tinged with green in strong light; throat and breast rich yellow; eyelids, a line over the eye, and another under the cheek white; line from eye to bill black; belly white.

Nest, rather bulky, of coarse grasses, leaves, and strips of bark, low in a thicket. Eggs, white, speckled and spotted with reddishbrown.

The Yellow-breasted Chat is a common summer resident of southern Connecticut and the lower Hudson Valley; in southern Rhode Island it is locally common; northward it becomes rare, and though found sparingly in the valleys of Berkshire County, Mass., and rather commonly at Swampscott, Mass., it does not seem to breed north of the latter State. The Chat arrives in May and leaves in August. Its favorite haunts are tangled briery thickets, or thick bushes in clearings. Here it soon makes its presence known by its loud calls. These are of astonishing variety, and sometimes absurdly grotesque. When uttering them the bird is often concealed in the thicket; at such a time he frequently utters his notes with such modulations and in such different keys that he seems now close at hand, and now far away. When singing on a limb, he turns with an air of ludicrous gravity from side to side, and in the height of the breeding season dances jerkily in the air with outstretched legs. The commoner calls are a loud tõo too too, resembling somewhat the song of the White-bellied Nuthatch, a whistled whit, and various clucking and mewing sounds.


5.33 in.

Ad. ♂.— Upper parts deep olive-green in strong light; forehead and broad line through eye black, bordered above by ashy gray; throat and breast bright yellow; belly yellowish. Ad. ♀.— Without the black or ashy lines; throat and breast yellowish; belly whitish.

Nest, on the ground or in a tussock, a deep structure of leaves and grasses. Eggs, speckled with brown at the larger end.

The Northern Yellow-throat (known formerly as the Maryland Yellow-throat) is a common summer resident of all New England and New York, arriving early in May and staying till October. In southern New England it is largely confined to swampy thickets, or the bushy borders of streams; but farther north, where the upland is ill-drained, it is common in the roadside bushes, even on the hills. Its mask of black, like a domino, contrasting with its bright yellow throat, its nervous actions, twitchings of the tail, and manner of climbing up the stalks of reeds or twigs, all serve to call attention to it and to fix its appearance in the mind.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

The Yellow-throat's song is loud and emphatic and attracts attention. It varies in different localities, but the same form is generally used by birds of one region; there are dialects, in other words. Three common forms are, (a) wee'see-see, weel-see-see, wee'-see-see, (b) wee-see'-ser, wee-seelser, wee-see'-ser, and (c) wee-see-see'-see, wee-see-see'-see, wee-see-see'-see. At intervals the male mounts a short distance into the air, and while descending utters a series of chips, followed by a bit of the ordinary song. The callnote is a rather loud tchek; the bird has also a rapid, rather wren-like chatter; in fact, its form and many of its actions suggest a wren, but no wren shows yellow anywhere.

The female, though less conspicuous, may be distinguished from other small yellow-throated birds by the low, wet situation where she is found, and by her nervous ways. No Pine Warbler would be found in the places which she frequents; the occasional Nashville Warbler or female Yellow Warbler that might occur there would be yellow or yellowish on the belly, as well as on the throat.

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