On Wednesday May 15th, twenty Friends and bird lovers ventured into the Preserve with Roma Lenehan in search of migratory warblers. Beautiful weather and bright sunshine provided the perfect environment for chasing these fluttering migrants through the high canopy of Frautschi Point.
Many of the warblers we encountered on the walk were traveling from warm wintering grounds in Central and South America; passing through Madison on their way to northern breeding areas. Madison bird lovers rejoice during this brief migration window because it offers a chance to see many different warblers in one location. Every day brings new species arrivals, making birding during this season especially exciting and adventurous. On this morning, fifteen species of warblers were identified. It’s evident that warblers love the Preserve just as much as we do.
Among the highlights of the Warbler Walk was an encounter with the rare and endangered Golden-winged Warbler. Roma explained that this species is experiencing a rapid and severe decline due to habitat destruction and hybridization with a similar species, the Blue-winged Warbler. It was evident that the opportunity to see and learn about such a rare bird was special as the “Oohs” and “Ahhs” rising up from the birding group prompted passing joggers to crane their heads in curiosity.
The 15 warblers identified were Nashville Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Northern Parula, Golden-winged Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated, Green Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided Warbler, American Redstart, Tennessee Warbler, Palm Warbler, Magnolia Warbler. A full list of the 56 species of birds identified on the two-hour walk is below.
All along the hike, Roma shared her vast knowledge about what the birds do, where they came from, what their behavior means, what their calls sound like, and how/where best to spot certain species. Attendees were treated to a fun and educational morning and got to see many exciting and colorful spring migrants. New birders on the trip learned that searching for warblers invariably leads to staring straight up into tall trees where these elusive creatures flutter about. Seasoned birders joked about having “warbler neck”. Beginner or veteran, all attendees left this Friends walk knowing that warblers are one pain in the neck that’s well worth it. Report and photos by Seth McGee, Friends host for this event.