“They’ve passed us by this year!”

This was a comment I heard by an experienced and disappointed birder about the lack of warbler species this May at Col. Sam Smith Park. In most years, a glorious array of warbler species can be seen here at this time of year as they head north to their breeding grounds. Not this year, at least so far. In my own daily outings, there are many species which I usually see but have not this year: Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler and Mourning Warbler.

I had a brief and distant glance at a Black-throated Blue Warbler this morning.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

MYSTERY BIRD

I include many photos of these little birds. I will identify them at the end of the post.

Other birds:

American Robin (juvenile)
Mourning Dove
Grackles, Redwings and House Sparrow
Common Grackle
European Starling with chick
Baltimore Oriole (male)
European Starling chick
Baltimore Oriole (male)
Red-necked Grebes
Baltimore Oriole (male)
American Goldfinch (male)
Red-necked Grebes
Baltimore Oriole (male)
Gray Catbird
Mute Swan
Common Terns
Red-eyed Vireo
Mute Swan
Tree Swallow
Double-crested Cormorants
Yellow Warbler
Double-crested Cormorants
American Goldfinch (male)
Ring-billed Gull
Gray Catbird
Ring-billed Gull
Gray Catbird
Ring-billed Gull
Gray Catbird
Mallard (male)
Orchard Oriole (juvenile male)
Ring-billed Gull
Barn Swallow

MYSTERY BIRD

The spike-like bill indicates a merganser. Usually mergansers show a crest but not always. The dusky appearance, dark head and chest indicate that these are female Hooded Mergansers. My grandfather wrote this about them: The females are very demurely dressed, with tan-coloured crests on a dark body, the crests usually depressed: notably inconspicuous birds.

Hooded Mergansers (female)

MAILBOX

NATURE POETRY

My lilac trees are old and tall;
I cannot reach their bloom at all.
They send their perfume over trees
And roofs and streets, to find the bees.     – Louise Driscoll (1875–1957)

Miles Hearn

6 thoughts on ““They’ve passed us by this year!”

  1. Patricia Lund

    I need to brush up on IDing those Warblers but have not seen many or heard many this year. Yesterday I heard an unusual song and realized it was in our garden Birch. I remembered Miles mentioning how one has to be very patient and how lately he spent 45 minutes trying to spot his quarry. So I hung on with my neck in cramps and finally through the binoculars spotted an unmistakable cherry-red bib and black head. It was a Rose Breasted Grosbeak with its lovely song that goes up and down the scale. It is thrilling to be able to ID birds by their song. Lucky Miles who knows them all.

    Reply
  2. Lisa Volkov

    Ha! I got the mystery bird! Not that they were female, not that they were Hooded, but at least, that they were Mergansers! And for me, that’s a triumph!
    This late in the season, still here?
    And when you referred to “They’ve passed us by this year”, I naturally thought you meant the–Whimb–I’m afraid of misspelling the rest–well, at least, I remembered the”Wh” part because I noticed that it wasn’t “Wim”! Well, from my point of view, I have been seeing a Wealth of Warblers (better than saying, I think, however correctly, a “Murder of Crows”–did I get that right?) on your posts. But what do I know of how many varieties there really are out there? There are so many! Of course, I am wondering about climate change, here. Thanks, Miles!

    Reply
  3. Gert Trudel

    Miles, thank you so much for all your posts! I have learned so much…..seen so many beautiful photos of birds, plants and scenery……you constantly challenge me to learn more.

    Reply
  4. Debi

    Still haven’t seen the Baltimore oriole. Beautiful shots of all the birds today. I’ve got to learn more about using my camera for those great flyby shots.
    Thanks. Will keep my eyes open and camera ready.

    Reply
  5. Leigh D.

    Like the person you overheard, I was a bit disappointed this spring during my few attempts to see migrants — at various times I TTC’d to Tommy Thompson’s Wet Woods, Crothers Woods, Taylor Creek, and Ashbridge’s.
    I always liked this observation that I heard years ago at Point Pelee: “When it’s a bad year for us, that probably means it’s been a good year for the birds.” That is, they probably encountered favourable weather conditions and just continued on their way, flying high above the city all night long, instead of coming down to rest & feed. Anyone who loves birds should be glad about that.

    Reply

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