Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Taking a Gull Siesta With Bay Area Warblers

Ah, the crispy Black-throated Blue Warbler. Rare but regular during fall migration, this is the first bird I've seen that is actually wintering in the state. Pescadero, CA.

Birding for the last few weeks in the bay area has largely been dominated by gulls and waterfowl. That's fine and everything, but there are other birds worthy of our attention as well, particularly ones that aren't gull-like in any way, shape or form. Today I've posted a few of the warblers currently wintering in the area, rare and otherwise...they provide a more than welcome reprieve from the birds that wield nothing but whites, browns, grays and blacks.

BB&B is excited to be making several other announcements today as well...the much-maligned BB&B interns have been hard at work churning out high-quality content since the return from Costa Rica, and we are bringing you, the nerd, some good stuff in the near future.

- The Human Birdwatcher Project is finally bringing you the next installment in its scandalous birder interview series soon, featuring Johnny "in the middle of some twisted Real World Field Biologists nonsense" Nutcase, whose blog is here. Check the Human Birdwatcher Project tab above for previous coverage.

- It's gull season. You are painfully aware of this, despite the emotions you may or may not have for them. If you are wondering why people even bother looking at gulls, you will soon find it all explained in grisly and dorky detail.

- Have you noticed that vagrants who cross international lines are frequently being considered escaped pets by unwitting birders? Its been nagging at me, and I think there is something we can do to clear this up. Expect TOTAL COVERAGE on this subject in the next week or two.

- If you haven't found it yet, BB&B has a Facebook page that ridicules birders even more than we do here. Some exclusive bird porn is provided as well...come join us!

The bird is largely dependent on a particular tree that is owned and operated by a Red-breasted Sapsucker. The sapsucker drills wells in the bark, the warbler steals the sap. The sapsucker knows what the warbler is up to and will chase it off if it sees that the warbler is up to its tricks. Thanks go out to the property owner who has not tried to stop all the visiting birders from staring into his front yard.

As Black-throated Blue Warblers are prone to be, this bird has been pretty cooperative and confiding.

It's not a warbler, but BB&B would like to finally welcome Red-breasted Sapsucker to its hallowed halls. This is the bird that is making the Black-throated Blue's winter visit possible. Thank you Red-breasted Sapsucker, thank you.

Easterners who yawn at the sight of a Black-throated Blue Warbler may better appreciate this Towsend's Warbler instead. Despite their abundance here this time of year, they never wear out their welcome. Cascade Ranch, Santa Cruz County, CA.

Cape May Warbler is a very good bird in California (I believe it's still a state review species), especially in winter...please excuse the photo quality and instead wallow in the warbler's greatness. This bird's winter territory ostensibly consists of a single eucalyptus tree in Palo Alto, CA.

It's nice to see an adult male, rather than one of those staggeringly drab hatch year birds. If you are wondering what the black shit on this bird's face is, its gunk from Eucalyptus flowers. Just to see what was so amazing about this tree that could attract (and keep) a vagrant warbler that belongs thousands of miles away, I drank some nectar from one of the flowers...it was delicious! If I could live in that tree and drink its succulent nectar all day, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Common Yellowthroat. They don't make it onto this blog often, so here is a reminder that they are out there and you should love them. Cascade Ranch, Santa Cruz County, CA.

Palm Warblers occur regularly on the West Coast in fall and winter. I found this bird amongst rocks lining a sidewalk...they are not too picky about habitat. Sausalito, CA.


  1. Well, it's nice to see the birds I failed to find while down there... Sigh.

  2. Looks like you're doing pretty well for yourself.

    Red and Blue are so often opposed to each other in rivalries and sports and palettes and what not. It's nice to see a good old fashion parasitic relationship between the Red Sapsucker and Blue Warbler once again, prove that we can all get along in this world.

    Easy on the eucalyptus...I think that stuff is poison.
    It looks like you were able to thread the needle there with the Yellowthroat, zooming and focussing through all kinds of branches and wicker baskets to get a clear face shot. Kudos!

    1. That wasnt the first time Ive dipped into the Euc nectar. A habit may be forming...

  3. That Cape May is a badass find! Looking forward to the next installment of the interview series.

    1. It was not in a typical birding spot, I'm surprised it got found at all.

      Interview tomorrow.

  4. I adore those Black-throated Blue Warbler images!