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A Favorite Warbler

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

People sometimes ask me which bird is my favorite to paint. It's kind of like asking about my favorite food or animal or child. I really like the one that's in front of me at the moment. (although scallops in buerre blanc are right up there, and Chet Baker is my favorite animal hands But I can answer with some emphasis that I love painting chestnut-sided warblers about the best of them all.

They don't stay with us to breed, going farther north to Pennsylvania and New England. Chestnut-sided warblers love old fields, and sing their sweet sweet sweet I'll switch you! song from the tops of small trees and shrubs. Where I used to live in Salem, Connecticut, they nested right on the road to my cottage. Oh, how I loved them, but I have traded them for yellow-breasted chats, and the icky deer ticks for icky but not infectious wood ticks, and that is all right with me.

There's so much going on on this little bird--crown patch, back stripes, wing bars (yellow, no less!), flank stripes, moustaches, tail spots, eye lines. And all set off with that fabulous white belly. It really is a party to paint.

But the attitude and poses chestnut-sided warblers strike are just as charming as their outfits. They tend to hop along branches, wings dropped and tails cocked, wagging side to side as they hop first this way and then that.

They look carefully at the undersurfaces of leaves and hop up to glean insects off them. Then they'll flutter-jump, snag a treat, and keep hopping. Each warbler has a distinctive foraging style, and the chestnut-side gleans the undersides of leaves, always looking up.

Maybe that's why I love them so.

Here's a photo from last May I never got the chance to post. May's like that.


finally! enough time and e-connection to wander through your blog. I feel like I've just visited you! we westerners have serious warbler envy, I guess you know. someday I'm going to turn up and let you introduce me to your favourites!

Such detail....pigeons in NYC are one color...dirty. Great pics !!

I love them too...they were in fine form in Point Pelee last weekend...and alongside the Bay-breasted Warblers it was total feathered eye candy!

I'll take that to mean that we won't be troubling you too much to demand that you paint one for us! It's been a long while since we've seen some Zick art.

He is a beauty! It must be fun to play with all those gorgeous colors!

At Hasty Brook last weekend the Chestnut-sided warblers were singing like crazy and having aerial dog-fights right over our heads. They really are lovely

BTW- regular wood ticks (dog ticks)can transmit Ehrlichia. We see more cases of it every summer in the laboratory where I work.

I'll never forget seeing my first Chestnut-sided Warbler at the Nature Festival in NY state in the Alleghany's near Jamestown.

Beautiful bird.

Thanks for posting the Chestnut-sided pix! Although I timed my vacation for the height of migration around here, I didn't figure on having an active case of Epstein Barr virus. For every day that I dragged myself out to bird, I paid with two or three on the sofa. It wasn't a total washout: I did get to see two Prairie Warblers fighting, had a pair of ibises do a flyover of my yard, and successfully stalked a Black-billed Cuckoo doing its best Garbo impersonation. But my warbler list this spring was pretty thin.

I'm with Jo -- please, ma'am, may we have some Zick art?

This is another bird that I have not seen. Maybe they do not come to SW Ohio. I am just beginning to see some newer birds. Not bad for an old guy.

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Wow, that last photo is beyond amazing Julie! Gorgeous!!

Great pix of the Chestnut-sided, Julie! Just to make you jealous - it is our most abundant nesting yard -warbler at the moment (that distinction having changed with successional stages in the yard and surrounding lands during the 22 years we've been here). Come visit soon!

Intrigued, and guessing...James, you wouldn't happen to have a special affinity for trout, would you?

I can see why it's a favorite. What great markings!

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