Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Warblers and Wildflowers

I'm now in Mississauga for a little while, and have been finding lots of cool things as spring continues to unfold. Bird species like Yellow-rumped Warbler and White-throated Sparrow have been increasing in numbers, but the first really big influx should happen within the next week or so, possibly very soon with fairly warm temperatures and south winds predicted for the rest of this week.

For many birders, myself included, it seems that the quality of birding for May and the end of April is defined by what warblers are seen. And as a result, the most exciting birds I've seen recently have been warblers. In addition to the Yellow-Rumped, I've found two other species of warblers around:

Although a number of bird species are infamous for being poorly named, the Pine Warbler is absolutely not one of them. During breeding, migration and winter this species is nearly always found in pine trees or the direct vicinity. Although picky about their choice of tree, they have few other requirements and are thus one of the few warblers that can be found breeding in urban parks. I was happy to watch this cooperative Pine Warbler feeding in pines (what else!) at the University of Guelph Arboretum.

In direct contrast to the preceding species, the Palm Warbler is rather poorly named. Although they may use palms to some extent in winter, there are not very many palm trees in the boreal bogs where they breed! I saw my first two Palm Warblers for the year today.

There are of course other interesting birds arriving from the south. Swallows are increasingly obvious and I spent some time watching a group of Northern Rough-winged, Barn, Tree and Cliff Swallows as well as Chimney Swifts catching midges from the dense swarms that made biking so unpleasant at times today. This Northern Rough-winged Swallow landed to preen for the while in the middle of a dense cloud of the flies.

As the warmer temperatures arrive ephemeral forest wildflowers are racing to reproduce before they are plunged into deep shade by the maples and oaks overhead. 

Yellow Trout Lilies carpet the forest floor, but will be gone without a trace not long after the trees leaf out.

White Trillium 


Unfortunately, all these flowers are close to expanding patches of invasive Garlic Mustard, and will likely be gone within five or ten years.

Just so I don't have to end on that unhappy note, here's a nice healthy-looking fox from Guelph.

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