{{featured_button_text}}

As Spring returns, so will many birds that have spent the winter outside of Iowa, many in the tropical regions of Central and South America. Some of our more common Spring returnees include bluebirds, orioles, grosbeaks, and buntings. But, some of the most overlooked of our Spring birds are the warblers.

Warblers are often overlooked in Iowa because they are small and are typically found in wooded areas where they can be difficult to see. In addition, although some warblers will nest in Iowa, many of them don’t; they simply pass through as they migrate north to their breeding grounds. In fact, of the 38 species of warblers that have been recorded in Iowa, only 18 actually nest here. So, you have to know when and where to look for our Spring warblers. But once you begin to notice them, you will be rewarded by their often bright colors and their bright, cheery songs.

One of the first warbler species to return in the Spring is the yellow-rumped warbler--a grey, black, and white bird with yellow patches on its rump (of course), its wings, and the top of its head. The magnolia warbler looks like the yellow-rumped, but with a distinctively yellow front. And, another warbler, the black-and-white warbler, looks very similar to those two, but doesn’t have any yellow at all.

Probably one of the most distinctive of our Spring warblers is the American redstart. This little bird is mostly black, but has orange on its sides and yellow patches on its wings and tail. At first glance, many people mistake these warblers for tiny orioles because their colors are so similar. Another distinctive warbler is the common yellowthroat. Although this bird has a greenish back, it has a bright yellow throat with a starkly contrasting black facial mask. Finally, the most yellow warbler is the aptly-named yellow warbler. This bird is uniformly yellow, although the back may be a little darker. The male also sports a few reddish-brown stripes on its front, as well.

Most of the warblers that pass through or nest here in Iowa spend their winters anywhere from the U.S./Mexico border all the way south to Argentina. That’s a long distance for these little migrants to fly. Most of them feed upon insects, using their thin beaks to pick bugs out of trees or snatch them out of the air. And, many of them have at least some yellow on them, making them easier to see each other in the dense tropical forests where they spend the winter.

Those often-bright colors also help us to see them in our forests, as well. So, this Spring, take a leisurely walk through a wooded area and look for our Spring warblers. You may hear them before you see them but, if you look closely, you will notice them flitting about the newly-leafed out trees, searching for insects among the leaves. It may not always be easy to identify each species. But you can still enjoy watching and hearing them, realizing that they have traveled a long way to get to that spot and, in many cases, may not be around for long. Warblers truly are one of the joys of Spring here in Iowa.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
0
0
0
0
0

Load comments