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32 varieties of warblers: Beautiful pint-sized birds are reason to grab binoculars and go for a hike

I have been an outdoor nut since I was 5 or 6 years old.

I began identifying all the neighborhood birds then, but not until I had a pair of binoculars could I appreciate “all” the other species out there.

Eventually when I could ride my bike, and then when I could drive, I was able to travel to better bird habitat and I started seeing warblers.

I have now logged 32 different warbler species in Carbon County, and adding in the Maryland Coastal area, I can “throw in” at least three others. Twenty one species may breed in the Times News area but many of those are found only in very specific habitats. I’ll dedicate this week’s column to some that either breed here or are the most common.

Like the Surgeon General’s warning on tobacco products, I will give you Reed’s Advisory: Seeing your first half dozen of these warblers in May of 2019, just as the leaves are “busting out,” can or may be detrimental to your mental health.

After identifying and seeing them up close you’ll not want to miss the opportunity to get out birding as often as you can. Lawn work, chores, and house cleaning may suffer.

Get a good field guide, a decent pair of binoculars and experience the variety of these 4- to 5-inch birds. They are not as conspicuous as a redwing blackbird, oriole, or robin, but are they really pretty.

Note: Most warblers are very active, darting out from a perch to snatch a gnat/flying insect, or hopping from branch to branch to glean a caterpillar or beetle.

Seldom do they pause for more than a couple of seconds. It will take patience and some luck to see them. Many species are declining in numbers (mostly due to disappearing winter habitat) and you may only encounter a few of each species. Don’t get discouraged when using your optics. Practice will definitely help. However, when trees are all “leafed” out in late May, getting great looks at these birds can be a challenge.

Test your outdoor knowledge: The _______ is usually the first bird at your feeder in the morning and the last there in the evening. A. Cardinal B. goldfinch C. Blue Jay D. house finch

Last week’s nature trivia: The opossum is our only marsupial and not native to Pennsylvania. It actually originated in the tropics and as our ancestors moved westward and northward our barns, sheds, garages, etc. offered sheltered wintering spots for them.

They do often suffer from frostbite after long winter cold snaps, losing digits and/or ears. Again, our earth’s warming temperatures have helped them expand as well.

This black-throated green warbler stopped to sing long enough to get photographed.
Palm warblers may “show up” here in early April. Look for them feeding in low brush or often on the ground
A pair of ovenbirds (male with his “hackle” raised) were quite disturbed at my presence. Apparently, the white pine I sat next to for an hour was too near their ground nest.
The Cape May warbler breeds to our north but its beauty will grace the spruces where it usually feeds during migration. Don’t be too surprised to find them even in the your hometown gleaning insects from your Norway spruce tree. 
The yellow warbler habituates stream/lake side vegetation.
The yellow-rumped warbler is usually the most common warbler seen in migration. Since it winters in the United States, its numbers have not suffered as much as the tropical wintering species.