<div><div> <h2>CHAPTER 1</h2> <p><b>WHAT TO NOTICE ON A WARBLER</b></p> <p>This section illuminates important warbler characteristics that can be used to significantly accelerate the identification process. There are five sections: Contrast and Color; Size, Shape, and Behavior; The Face; The Body; and The Undertail.</p> <br> <p><b>Section 1: Contrast and Color</p> <p><i>Contrast</i></b> One of the primary ways to separate warblers is by contrast. The birds in the Visual Finders are easily separated into two categories: high-contrast birds, which have bold markings and colors, and low-contrast birds, which are drab or plain. There are two basic types of contrast: tonal contrast, when adjacent areas are brighter and darker; and color contrast, where different colors intersect (for example, black and yellow are highly contrasting, while yellow and olive are not). These two types of contrast are not mutually exclusive—often a bird with high tonal contrast also has strong color contrast.</p> <p>The well-defined, high-contrast throat of a Common Yellowthroat is especially distinct when color contrast is removed from the equation.</p> <p><b>General contrast</b> manifests in several ways on a bird, one of which is the contrast between the lower body and the upper body and wings.</p> <p><b>Hooding</b> occurs when the head color contrasts with the body color.</p> <p><b>Wing bars</b> are created by white tips on the greater and median coverts and can be a striking and very important ID characteristic. There are more subtle but equally important contrasting covert patterns in the wings that are also worth noticing.</p> <p><b>Facial contrast</b> is sometimes useful in separating similar birds. Townsend's and Black-throated Green warblers are similarly shaped; both have black streaking in the sides, a black throat, and both are masked and capped. In fact, at first their faces seem very similar, but the degree of contrast becomes a key ID point.</p> <p>Likewise, Orange-crowned and Tennessee are similar in structure and coloration. While Tennessee has white undertail coverts and Orange-crowned has yellow undertail coverts, facial contrast can be a quicker way to separate them.</p> <p>Many warblers have bright, contrasting facial features in spring that make them easy to identify—Cape May, Blackburnian, Prairie, and Wilson's, for example. These same patterns are often present and equally diagnostic in the fall, but in a lower-contrast form.</p> <p><b><i>Color</i></b> One of the delightful things about warblers is their color, which can quickly lead to an accurate identification. Note, however, that more than half of the warblers in this book lack any really distinctive colors, so it is also important to be aware of qualities like contrast and shape, and markings like wing bars and streaking.</p> <br> <p><b>Diagnostic colors</b> occur on a few birds and can lead to an instant ID.</p> <p>It is often helpful to think of not one color, but rather of a combination of colors, because certain color combinations are sometimes unique to a species.</p> <p>For many species it's important to notice subtle variations of color.</p> <p><b>Subtle color differences</b> can be an excellent starting point for identification. different types of blue here in four species of warbler:</p> <p><b>Lighting conditions</b> can strongly affect a bird's appearance. At sunrise or sunset, all birds seem warm, with unexpected yellow or pink tones.</p> <br> <p><b>Section 2: Size, Shape, Habitat, and Behavior</b></p> <p>Before focusing on the specifics of plumage, it is a good practice to look at size, shape, and behavior. Like a sculptor starting with a block of marble, it is critical in identification to work on the most general characteristics first and then proceed to the fine details.</p> <br> <p><b><i>Size</i></b> Size is especially useful for separating warblers from other species, such as larger orioles, tanagers, and vireos. The following silhouettes are shown in accurate proportion to each other.</p> <p>Many warblers are of similar size: small warblers are around 4.5 in. long, average-size warblers are around 5 in., and large ones can be 5.5 in. or larger. Sometimes these size differences can help differentiate similar warbler species without one ever having to go into plumage specifics. Note that size is often noticed through a bird's movements: larger birds tend to be slower moving, while very small birds are often quick and flitting.</p> <p><b><i>Shape</i></b> Like size, shape is most important when separating warblers from other nonwarbler species. The following silhouettes are all sized the same (despite different actual sizes) to emphasize the differences in shape.</p> <p>Differences between warbler shapes can be more subtle. Differences do exist, though, and with careful attention these can be quite useful.</p> <p>Similarities are also notable: many closely related warbler species are similarly shaped.</p> <p><b><i>Habitat</i></b> is useful in terms of probability. A warbler high in a tree is most likely not a Common Yellowthroat (although it can occur there), and a warbler walking along a streambed is unlikely to be a Cerulean.</p> <p><b><i>Behavior</i></b> is an excellent starting place in identification. Non-warbler species often behave quite differently from warblers, and some warbler behavior is diagnostic.</p> <br> <p><b>Section 3: The Face</b></p> <p>Almost every warbler in North America can be identified by face alone. The more sensitive your eye becomes to facial marks, the better able you will be to ID warblers, especially when only partial views are available. This section addresses <i>cheek patches, masks, eyerings and eye-arcs, superciliums, top-of-head markings, bills</i>, and <i>throats</i>.</p> <p><b><i>Cheek patches</i></b>, or <i>auriculars</i>, are contrastingly darker areas behind and below the eye.</p> <p><b><i>Masks and other black facial marks</i></b> are found on about a third of the warblers discussed in this book, often providing distinct ID points.</p> <p>These four "black-throated" warblers each have distinctive facial markings.</p> <p><b><i>Eyerings and eye-arcs</i></b> are the circles or partial circles around some warbler's eyes.</p> <p>These three elusive, ground-dwelling warblers are separable as adults by their eyerings, eye-arcs, or lack thereof.</p> <p>In each of these pairs, the eyering helps separate two similar warbler species:</p> <p>In these examples, the eyering merges with the supraloral area to create a "goggled" effect.</p> <p><b><i>Eyelines</i></b> are dark lines through the eye, often extending on both sides.</p> <p>Some drab fall warblers have differences in their eyelines, which contribute to different facial expressions:</p> <p><b><i>Lores</i></b> are partial eyelines in front of the eye, and <i>post-ocular lines</i> are partial eyelines behind the eye.</p> <p><b><i>The supercilium</i></b> is a light contrasting area above the eye that often creates an "eyebrow" effect.</p> <p><i><b>Top-of-head markings</b> Capped, hooded</i>, and <i>striped</i> are terms for the contrasting color area on top of some warblers' heads. <i>Hooded</i> birds have a colored head that contrasts with the body, <i>capped</i> birds have a dark upper head that contrasts with the face, and birds with <i>striped heads</i> have contrasting lines on their upper head.</p> <p>Each of these colored caps is distinctive.</p> <p><b><i>Bills</i></b> vary among warblers, especially across genera. For example, warblers in the genus <i>Geothlypis</i>, which includes Mourning, MacGillivray's, and Kentucky, all have relatively large bills. <i>Vermivora</i> and <i>Oreothlypis</i> (until 2010 considered the same genus)—Golden-winged, Blue-winged, Lucy's, Colima, Orange-crowned, Tennessee, Virginia's, and Nashville— have fine, pointed bills.</p> <p>Bill shape and size have a lot to do with the feeding habits of birds. Mourning, MacGillivray's, and Kentucky feed on invertebrates on the ground and like to probe and push aside leaves, hence their heavier bills. <i>Vermivora</i> often glean insects from bark and nectar from flowers hence their fine, pointed bills.</p> <p><b>Bill size</b> can be tricky to differentiate on similar warbler species (especially in the large genus <i>Setophaga</i>), and it is often more of a supporting feature. Some species, however, have bills that are noticeably different.</p> <p><b>Bill color</b> may vary in some warblers depending on age. In a couple of species, the bill is distinctly bicolored: black on top and pale on bottom.</p> <p><b>Bill shape and size</b> contribute to a warbler's silhouette and general appearance and provide excellent separators to differentiate a warbler from other types of birds such as vireos, flycatchers, and orioles (see the section Non-Warbler Similar Species for more details on these birds).</p> <p><b><i>The throat</i></b> is the transitional area from below the bill to the top of the breast.</p> <p><b>Throat streaking</b> can be useful in identifying Cape May and the waterthrushes.</p> <p><b>Throat color</b> is most helpful for ID purposes when it strongly contrasts with the rest of the head. For example, a strongly contrasting black throat narrows the ID choices to a small group of warblers:</p> <p><b>The malar stripe</b> is the contrasting line that runs from the base of the bill to the top of the shoulder along the side of the throat.</p> <br> <p><b>Section 4: The Body</b></p> <p>Warblers are often seen in partial view, and knowing the specifics of body topography can often be an important advantage in making an ID. To that end, this section addresses the <i>breast, belly, and flanks; the back and rump;</i> and <i>the wings.</p> <p><b>The breast, belly, and flanks</b></i> make up the underbody of a warbler between the throat and legs. The breast is the "chest" of the bird, and the flanks are the sides below the wings and above the legs on a standing bird.</p> <p><b>Body streaking</b> can be important in ID.</p> <p>Streaks can be closely spaced (dense) or widely spaced (sparse), and they can be evenly distributed or clumped.</p> <p>Only a few warbler species have colored streaking (not brown or black) on their breast, which is always diagnostic.</p> <p><b>Necklaces</b> are a pattern of streaking across the breast, which can be an important ID mark. Notice the full or partial necklace effect in these birds:</p> <p><b>Side stripes</b> are a very important ID point shared by three warbler species. Such stripes consist of a single, thick band of color than runs along the side and flank.</p> <p><b>Color</b> of breast and flanks is sometimes diagnostic.</p> <p>The extent of breast color and how it blends with adjacent areas is important.</p> <p><b><i>The back and rump</i></b> are the upper parts of the bird. The back color can bleed into the head and rump or can stand out on its own.</p> <p><b>Back streaking</b> occurs in many warblers.</p> <p><b>Patches</b> are squares of contrasting color on the center of the back found on a couple of warbler species, and can be diagnostic.</p> <p><b>The rump</b> is the lower back, above the base of the tail. For many birds the rump is the same color as the back, but a few have a contrasting rump color.</p> <p>Not all rump patches are created equal. While some species have small areas of strongly contrasting color, others have a more diffuse patch that extends all the way across the lower back. Diffuse patches are often overlooked but can be important ID points.</p> <p><b><i>Wings</i></b> often have contrasting wing bars created by the contrasting tips of the greater and median coverts.</p> <p>It can be very useful to notice the color and contrast of the area between a bird's two wing bars.</p> <p><b>Wing panels</b> occur when the pale covert edges are more extensive, causing the wing bars to become a solid block of color, and are found on breeding-season males in some species.</p> <p>One species shows a more restricted patch, created by white bases of the primaries. Commonly referred to as a "handkerchief," it is not found on all individuals (specifically some first-year female birds), but it is diagnostic when present.</p> <p><b>Flight-feather edging</b> is a subtle but useful quality on some warbler wings and can be contrasting, colored, or both.</p> <p><b>Primary projection</b> is how far the tips of the folded primaries extend past the tertials on the folded wing (see diagram in <b><i>Topographic Tour</i></b>). In other types of birds, such as shorebirds or flycatchers, the primary projection can be very useful for ID. On warblers, however, it is only regularly useful in a few ID problems, two of which are Blackpoll and Bay-breasted Warbler versus Pine, and Tennessee versus Orange-crowned.</p> <p><b>The contrast between wing color and body color</b> is also useful at times. One subtle example is the bluish cast of the female Wilson's warbler's wing contrasting with its body and back, unlike that of Yellow or Hooded warblers.</p> <br> <p><b>Section 5: The Undertail</b></p> <p>Even from high overhead, warblers offer many important clues to their identity through the undertail. When a warbler is perched on a twig or branch, the main view offered is often from the legs back to the tail. This view shows the warbler's lower breast, vent, undertail coverts, and folded tail. In combination these areas offer important ID information that can be diagnostic or at least conclusive when combined with one or two other points such as throat color. In this section we cover what to look for in each of these areas and how to use them as a group to help identify a warbler.</p> <p>A few cautionary notes about looking at warblers from below. First, be aware of lighting and shadows, because they can have a powerful effect on a bird's appearance.</p> <p>Second, birds do not always hold their tails neatly, and this can make them look very different from their "normal" pattern.</p> <p>Finally, in some situations molt can cause the tail to look odd.</p> <p><b><i>The belly</i></b> is the area just in front of the vent. We will only consider a small portion of the very bottom of the belly. Of course, the full body color offers more clues, but often this full view is not available.</p> <p><b><i>The vent</i></b> is the small area between the legs, below the lower breast and above the undertail coverts. It often has more "texture" or fluffiness than the belly feathers or undertail coverts. In general, the color of the vent blends into the color of the belly, but there are useful exceptions.</p> <p><b><i>Undertail coverts</i></b> are multiple rows of feathers extending from the vent: the lowermost cover the base of the tail. The length and color of these feathers is often important. The length of the undertail coverts (abbreviated "UnTC") greatly influences how we perceive the overall length of the tail from below. For tails of the same length, long undertail coverts cover more of the tail and make the tail seem shorter, while short undertail coverts cover less of the tail and make it appear longer.</p> <p>Some undertail coverts have unique patterns that are diagnostic.</p> <p><b><i>Tail</i></b> characteristics include length, color, width, and extension past the undertail coverts. Each of these can help distinguish among warbler species, as well as separate warblers from non-warblers.</p> <p><b>The tail extension</b> when seen from below is the length of the tail beyond the undertail coverts. Here, Blackpoll (and Bay-breasted) are easily differentiated from Pine by the tail extension: the long undertail coverts and long wings of the Blackpoll emphasize the short-looking tail, while Pine has a much longer tail accentuated by relatively shorter wings.</p> <p>Tail extension versus undertail covert length is often an important comparison.</p> <p><b>Outer tail feathers</b> When looking at a tail from below we see the two outermost tail feathers, which are folded under the rest of the tail feathers. The apparent color of the tail, then, depends on the coloration of these outer tail feathers.</p> <p><b>Tail color</b> on warblers falls into four basic categories.</p> <p><b><i>All-dark</i></b> tails in warblers are usually not black but, rather, some shade of gray. Depending on the light, these tails can range in appearance from near-black to light and silvery. They never look really white, unlike tails with white spots or all-white outer feathers. It's important to become sensitive to this difference, as casually identifying a silvery tail as white can lead to misidentifications.</p> <p><b><i>All-white or white with dark borders</i></b> occur if the outer tail feather is all white or nearly so. Some tails look completely white, but others have a black or dark edge, particularly at the tail corners. Some species, such as Hooded Warbler, flash the white of their outer tail feathers in a distinctive way.</p> <p><b><i>Dark with white tail spots</i></b> is the most common configuration. From below, the tail looks partly white, with the patches of white surrounded by dark.</p> <p>Palm Warbler has very little dark on the tail edges but boasts a wide, square area of black at the base of the tail. This is the nearly reverse of the Magnolia Warbler's tail pattern and is also diagnostic. </div></div><br/> <i>(Continues...)</i> <!-- Copyright Notice --> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'>Excerpted from <b>The Warbler Guide</b> by <b>Tom Stephenson, Scott Whittle</b>. Copyright © 2013 Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS. <br/>All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br/>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.</font><hr noshade size='1'></blockquote>