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The Ferocious Warbler

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Black-throated green warblers are common fall migrants here. Sometimes they'll even treat us to a snippet of their buzzy, drawly zee-zee-zee-zu-zee song. But mostly they fight, with each other and with any other bird that crosses their path.
Two males square off, their golden-olive backs an exotic glow against leaf-green.

They whirl and chase through the branches.
Face to face, they spar.
Their fight takes them looping over to the shining sumac and out of my reach. That would have been such a gorgeous picture, given the right exposure and framing. Ah well. Warblers move fast, and I do my best. Sometimes the blurry ones are more evocative of their nature than the sharp ones.

A feisty male challenges a titmouse who outweighs him twice. Whatchoo lookin' at?
Nothing, sir, nothing. Just minding my own bidness.

And what about you, Camera Girl? Come on. Take your best shot.
Sorry, Mr. BT Green. A blurry one will have to do. You're too fast and mean for me.

As I write, the migration is winding down; the first yellow-rumped warblers have shown up, and they're among the most cold-hardy of warblers. Indigo buntings are sweeping in. Ruby-crowned kinglets are fluttering at the branch tips; field sparrows are flocking. But today we did have Nashville, Tennessee, Cape May, bay-breasted and black-throated green warblers in addition to the butterbutts. I'm considering making a teeny little batch of Zick dough for the FOURTEEN bluebirds who sit on the tower every sunny morning, calling my name. It's hard to deny them... After the late summer and early fall hiatus that all bluebirds seem to take, the gouty female bluebird is back with her mate, and she looks good, with no swelling or redness in her feet, but she still sits low on the perch, and one of her toes is stiff. Truly, I'm just glad to see her at all, glad she and her mate have survived the summer and come back with babies in tow.

Gosh, I'll miss the warblers, though. It has been one heck of a beautiful fall, graced with their company every morning.


Why do the black-throated greens spar and chase if breeding season is over? Do hormones kick in for migration?
I noticed the red-eyed vireos behaving similarly last week.

I think the hummers take top billing on agressiveness.
We still have at least 3 and they guard the feeders with due diligence.

Those BTG warblers look a lot like our Townsends, but I have not seen such aggressive behavior in them.

Yes, Lynne, the ten-dolla word for it is gonadal recrudescence. The gonads of a bird are entirely internal, lying along the lower spine. They swell for breeding season to many times their dormant size. And they shrink back down for migration--birds must save weight any way they can. But they pump back up a little, and secrete just enough testosterone to kick-start the flight. Which seems to make certain species like REVI and BTGR go a little nuts. Hummingbirds--I think they're eternally testosterone-poisoned. Wow, Ric--you still have three? We were lucky to see one transient at the salvia today. Tell those dudes to get out of Canada!

From where I am these days, Canada is doing everything possible to get rid of all the birdies ... but then I come here, read all abouit gonads, and I'm restored.

I believe we could all use a little gonadal recrudescence this time of year, wind up instead of winding down. Yawwwwwn. Come back soon from the tarry sands, LOG.

Wow, warbler wonderland there again! What feisty little birds, those black-throated greens!

Hmmm, yep a little kick start would do me good. Somehow it's fall in NH again. It always happens when I'm not looking! The hummingbirds disappeared for good a week or so ago and I finally took down the feeders over the weekend. Not many birds in sight from where I stand right now so my daily visits to Ohio are even more heartening than usual these days. I filled the feeders again yesterday hoping for some visitors soon as it gets colder and other food supplies run out. Luckily there are plenty of frogs and turtles and turkeys and grouse around for me to watch when I can resist the urge to hibernate :)

You are an amazing photographer and I love your blog!!

Bless you, Knitaholic, but I am not an amazing photographer. Artie Morris and Frans Lanting are amazing photographers. I am there for the moments of wonder and action, and I point my camera at them and do my best, using manual focus almost exclusively (and usually inadequately). Virtually nothing you'll see here is publishable, but it's fine for my purposes, which is to have fun, capture a moment, and share the fun and the action with you. I hardly get anything done on migration days, like today, for all the action outside. I love taking pictures to share, and that's all. But thank you.

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