Monday, August 04, 2008

Secretive Swainson's Warbler

"One of the most secretive and least observed of all North American birds, the Swainson's Warbler is a skulking bird of the southern canebrakes and rhododendron thickets. If it weren't for its loud, ringing song, the presence of the species in many areas would go completely undetected. " (Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds)

Really? Here at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest we have seen plenty in the last two weeks and have captured and banded three individuals. Secretive? Somebirdie needs to pay more attention during covert operations class. We jest, of course, because the Swainson's Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii) is indeed difficult to see, even with the stellar habitat (and mist nets) we have here at Beidler Forest. In fact, habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, which invites parasitism by cowbirds, are the main threats that have earned the Swainson's Warbler a spot on the Audubon Watchlist.

We've seen the Swainson's Warbler in the upland stretch between the nature center and the edge of the swamp near #3 on the boardwalk as well as the upland sites where we set the mist nets near the thick successional vegetation of a previously-logged site. The images show the Swainson's Warbler we caught and banded last week.

Images by Mark Musselman

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