by Alexandra Forsythe
It’s warbler season! If you watch the brushy areas at the edges of woodlands, you’re likely to be treated to a colorful assortment of birds, many of them warblers in breeding plumage. Warblers come in such a beautiful variety of colors; it’s no wonder a group of warblers is often called a “bouquet”.
With so many types of warblers darting among the trees and bushes, birders often find it difficult to identify the warblers they see. However, the Magnolia Warbler is an exception; it is relatively easy to identify thanks to its distinctive coloration. For some handy warbler identification charts, go to:http://info.allaboutbirds.org/Portals/95627/docs/The%20Warbler%20Guide%20quick-finders.pdf
In 1810, ornithologist Alexander Wilson saw this bird in a magnolia tree in Mississippi. He named it the “Black and Yellow Warbler” with the scientific name of “magnolia”. Even though the bird that Wilson saw was only resting temporarily during migration, and these warblers are rarely seen in magnolias, the name “Magnolia Warbler” stuck. John James Audubon’s gorgeous illustration of the “Black and Yellow Warbler” can be found in his book, “The Birds of America”.
Warblers can be found everywhere at this time of year, but there is one location in particular that you should search for warblers from May 2-4, 2014: Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary. That weekend Mary Gray hosts the Indiana Audubon Spring Festival with a fantastic array of speakers, hikes and activities. It’s a beautiful setting and you’ll be surrounded by birders from novices to pros. Of course, you’re sure to see warblers while you’re there. This Magnolia Warbler posed for me at the 2013 Spring Festival and I’m looking forward to even more photo opportunities this year!