Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blue-winged Warbler

It looks like Hurricane Irene will miss us as she heads north, but the Blue-winged Warblers (Vermivora pinus) have stopped by the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest as they travel south to central Mexico and into Panama.

Denise Ecker, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon South Carolina, was on the boardwalk for a quick count of birds.  She did not get far (#106) from the building before she had already encountered 17 species of birds including the Blue-winged Warbler and a Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus).  You can keep an eye on the bird activity at the Francis Beidler Forest by checking eBird for the "Francis Beidler Forest Audubon Center & Sanctuary" hotspot.

The Blue-winged Warbler interesting as well as attractive bird.  The Blue-winged Warbler along with the closely related Golden-winged Warbler prefer habitat in succession from open field to brush and young woodlands.  Their ranges began to overlap as more farmland in the eastern United States began to revert to uncultivated vegetation.  Loss of habitat through human development and the succession of land to forest threatens both species.  Where their ranges overlapped, the two species interbred creating the hybrid types Brewster's Warbler and the rarer Lawrence's Warbler.  The hybrids are fertile and can mate with each other (though rarely) and with either of the parental species.

A Blue-winged Warbler was later spotted feeding in the parking area.  This species is often observed probing into dead or living curled leaves where insects and spiders may have created shelter.

There is plenty of food in the swamp to help birds bulk up for their flights south.  Maybe Hurricane Irene will provide a strong tailwind as the counterclockwise-rotating storm passes east of us!

Images by Mark Musselman

No comments: