The Warblers …

Specifically the New World Warblers of the family Parulidae, if it’s opera singers you’re after you should head <HERE>.

The Warblers have something for everyone. For the bird watcher they are very close to addictive. For the taxonomist they provide a lesson in total chaos and for the superstitious their entry in The Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 15 starts on page 666. Scary.

Authors have written books on them, dozens of books. Mt favorite is The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. No voyage to the New World should sail without it. On the journey it will serve as ballast, once landed it will serve as a deterrent to theft … no one will steal your suitcase with a copy inside, they won’t be able to lift it.

Currently the Americas are home to 116 species, at other times the family has been submerged in a much larger family, the Coerebidae, or itself enlarged, or reduced, or in the immortal words of the HBW …

… which had contained, among others, the Neotropical honeycreepers, and placed the Conebills (Conirostrum) and the Bananaquit with the New World Warblers and …

If you’d just hold my beer for a moment there will be a new arrangement by the time you give it back. The one thing that does remain certain is that they are not closely related to the Old World Warblers or the Australian Warblers.

Identification is a challenge not made any easier by their frenetic activity, their changes in plumage through the seasons and their habit of taunting you from high in the canopy. I managed to capture a few presentable images which I offer here along with my suggestion as to identification. Should it be the case that you disagree please state your case for an alternative ID in the comments.

Cape May Warbler
Tennessee Warbler

One particularly confusing duo comprises the Blackpoll and Bay-breasted Warblers. The spring males are easily distinguished but in fall plumage things become challenging. Some folks simply record them as Baypolls. A very useful article by Tom Schultz can be found on ebird.

There is a little ochre on the flanks and the legs are black which indicates that this is Bay-breasted (against that is the streaking on the breast which points to Blackpoll but the ochre shows well in other photos and clinches it for me).

Bay-breasted Warbler

For some really stunning Warbler photos you should head to Glenn Bartley’s site <HERE>.

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