Thursday, October 3, 2013

This Week's Crops & Clips: Prairie Warbler

Upon our return from Illinois to our south Florida home, we were greeted by an influx of one of our favorite warblers. Some Prairie Warblers breed locally, but their numbers are reinforced by migrants, many of whom will spend their winter here with us. Although this is probably one of my most-photographed bird species, I never tire of capturing them in varied habitats and poses.

As is the case with many bird species, the adult males are more boldly plumaged than the females. Here is a typical male in a side-on "field guide" pose.

Prairie Warbler 20100401.

Rarely do these active birds sit still for such a view. This portrait illustrates the dark semicircles under its eyes, that are said to give it a tired "baggy-eyed" look that is unique among New World warbler species.

 Prairie Warbler 2-20100108

One trait that makes them more appealing as photographic subjects is their habit of gleaning prey just one branch at a time. Moving from the trunk of the tree out to the smallest branches, one can often predict a bare twig up ahead where they may provide an opportunity for an unobstructed photo. Of course, it is impossible to predict what posture one might assume.

Prairie Warbler 20100919

Prairie Warbler 4-20110204

Prairie Warbler 3-20110325

Prairie Warbler 2-20110204

Prairie Warbler 2-20121009

Too often, my camera clicks reveal nothing but an empty branch. Sometimes I am lucky enough to get a flight shot.

Prairie Warbler 2-20130919

Prairie Warbler 3-20120223

Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor) in flight 20101201

The female is more subdued, but nonetheless beautiful.

Prairie Warbler 20111026

This is an immature female Magnolia Warbler. Note full eye ring and plain face that helps distinguish it from the female or immature Prairie Warbler.

Magnolia Warbler 20111020

I love the aesthetics of this photo of a female Prairie Warbler. It reminds me of a John James Audubon painting, as he used wires to contort  avian corpses into unusual postures to serve as subjects for his art.

Prairie Warbler female 2-20130922

In the fall, a first-year male may be indistinguishable from a female.

Prairie Warbler 2-20110914


  1. HI Ken Love this little Warbler and their quick. I love the baggy eyes in the 2nd shot and how he is looking a the camera. You have managed to capture this bird in many positions including flight shots. Great.

  2. sweet warblers!! great shots of them, too!

  3. Cute shots! I don't see the prairie very often here in Tampa

  4. Absolutely stunning photographs and I learned a lot just reading your captions! SO glad I found your blog!

  5. Stunning photographs! I learned a lot just by reading the captions. I'm so glad I found your Blog!

  6. Excellent captures Ken!!! And the birds are beautiful!! I especially enjoyed the 4th image from the top!!!

  7. The warblers are pretty, great shots!

  8. What a great series of photos of prairie warblers!

  9. Great captures of these beautiful little birds. Your "Audubon" shot should be framed.

  10. Excellent shots of this sweet little bird! The colour is very pretty.

  11. Some world beaters of a beautiful warbler there Ken. I am always intrigued as to how many NA warblers have yellow in their plumage. It must be all that sunshine.

  12. lol, this bird really seemd to like to be photographed :)

  13. Lovely post and wonderful images! I think a Magnolia Warbler snuck into this post, though. One of the warblers (I think fourth from the bottom) has a complete eye-ring, a gray necklace and a black tip to the tail. I think it's a first winter Magnolia Warbler. Wonderful post;I look forward to returning.

  14. Thanks, Scott-- you are absolutely right about that Magnolia Warbler. The superficial resemblance fooled me when I picked up the shot, which I had correctly identified as a Magnolia when I posted it on FLICKR. The photo search picked up my mentioning Prairie Warbler in the body of my FLICKR comments.


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