Before I get into today’s post, just wanted to mention I finally got my ’21 pumpkin carving project post out. I know some of you enjoy the Halloween related posts which I keep up on the mothership (link here). Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
I was able to get a cold weather run in a few days ago. The first one of the fall/winter season is always a jolt to my system and it didn’t help that this time there was sleet involved. A majority of my race season is in hot weather which the body, barring any extremes, is perfectly happy with. It’s the transition to the colder season that takes a bit getting used to. The temple requires a lot of replenishing oxygen especially on the trails and gulping air is the norm – taking cold air (especially with the sub-20sF, hell, sub zero) directly into the lungs can be a shock to the chest – I call it freeze-lungs.
Speaking of chests, you may have been wondering what was up with the post-a-palooza that recently occurred. We went up to Mayo for Linda’s annual checkup post heart surgery. This gave me some extra cycles in the waiting areas as she went through her battery of pokes, prods and the terrifying let’s see how close to death we can get her by turning off the pacemaker procedure – that one makes me cringe and I’m not even the one going through it. In the end, we received really good news, after two years, everything is working perfectly (when they are not purposely shutting things down) and her heart specialist is good with her getting into a new study involving a more natural blood thinner. Linda actually selected her valve type because of this feature, but she had some complications during the surgery that warranted the extra validation time. All great news!
How about we go ahead and make it a chesty trivecty with today’s featured feathered friend.
How is that for a beautiful bird (keeping my promise to CJ). There are a lot of Warblers to choose from, but this color burst of a bird is definitely in my top 3 and top 10 across all the birds currently checked off my list. Maybe it’s the dainty size, possibly the brilliant white feathering that makes their strategic coloring pop or the whole package, but this species brings a smile to my face every time I encounter it in the field.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this distinctly colored Warbler.
If you are not familiar with this bird, it is a Chestnut -Sided Warbler Like many of the Warblers, this species prefers to winter in the southern part of Central America, the northern part of South America as well as the Caribbean islands. During breeding season they make the long migration to the New England states, northeastern border states and then up into Canada. There is an odd finger that extends down through West Virginia into Tennessee – not sure what is going on there. Ron is definitely in luck as they also lists Chicago as one of their breeding areas, the only sliver in all of IL – we did find them on a previous trip to Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary so I can attest they are there. That would have definitely been closer as this series was captured on our April trip to Dauphin Island off the Gulf Shores of Alabama. They were just taking a break after their long trek across the waters before continuing their northern migration.
Compared to other Warblers, these Chestnuts seem more “spunky” and tolerant of people pointing large ominous black bazookas at them. “I’m too sexy for my feathers, too sexy for my feathers as I shake my little tush on the tree bark.” (hint, the only way to get that referenced song out of your head now will be to sing it out loud – apologies for the laughs if anyone sees you doing that .. wait, not sorry, everyone can use a laugh these days hehehe). “Look at me, I’m too sexy for this twig I’m hiding behind so you can’t get a clean shot of me”
I have to give kudos to the individual that named this creature after an easily distinguishable field characteristic. “Hey, look at that little white bird with the yellow cap and chestnut coloring on the side – I shall call it grey foot” Well, that is usually how it goes ha. Granted, this name probably doesn’t help you if you come upon a female or an immature as those have very little of the chestnut and if so, may not be easily visible. They are also more of a yellow-green highlight over a predominantly grey face and body. Admittedly, they all have grey feet.
I was able to capture their signature posture. Cornell states that they often forage with their tails cocked and their wings drooped. The second shot in this post shows that behavior perfectly. The drooped wings at first reminded me of a constipated bird trying really really hard to crap on the “catwalk” (if I can’t get that song out my head, then we are all going to suffer hehehe).
While I’m providing a few extra perspectives to appease my brother and give you a good feel for the bird, let’s see what kinds of tidbits I can leave you with. In contrast to the Worm-Eater featured previously (link here), this Warbler prefers more open and younger deciduous trees. Likely more adaptable to urban expanse and new infrastructure projects.
Their song is quite spunky as well consisting of a chorus that Cornell likens to “Pleased, pleased, pleased to meetcha!” or “I wish to meet Miss Beecher”. Now I am throwing that second one right out as I don’t hear that one at all. The first one is a better interpretation to me with the notable exception the meetcha part is a bit contrived. I listened to it over and over again and still can’t associate that enough to be able to use it in the field – not to mention it sounds more like 3 syllables vs the 2 in meetcha. I’d give you a better word to memorize, but honestly, haven’t been able to associate it to anything other than cat calls from “affectionate” construction workers.
Beyond that, not much really to pass along about this cutie. They have the food preference of most Warblers, being insects/spiders/etc. , and form monogamous pairs. Interesting, looks like they hold their tales straight or down when they get pissed off at other birds in the territory – now that is a good cue for Ron to start running!
Hope you enjoyed the latest addition to my birding life list – 6 to go to meet my goal. Now time to go suck some cold air into the lungs.