A few weeks ago, I was ecstatic to finally puzzle out one of the flighty, yellow visitors to my yard and confirm the identity of the prairie warbler. It was a colorful new lifer and a very welcome visitor to the yard, and a satisfying experience to so thoroughly explore its field marks to be confident about the identification.
Then came another yellow blur, another bit of flightiness, another ruffle of feathers in the yard. For a moment, I believed the prairie warbler was making another visit, but a quick glimpse of the bird’s face showed the notable lack of the bold undereye arc that distinguishes prairie warblers. And the darker streaking on the flanks was less distinct, and there appeared to be a bit more white on the lower abdomen and undertail coverts. The wing bars looked a bit off, too, and what cinched it was the bird’s visit to the feeder, where, surprisingly, it seemed quite content to munch on seeds. Not too many warblers do that, and the prairie warbler certainly hadn’t been at all interested in the mixed seed I was offering in my hanging platform feeder.
Out came the field guide and binoculars once again.
Fortunately, this bird stayed happily occupied at the feeder for some minutes while I frantically adjusted the focus on my binoculars and flipped pages in my well-worn Kaufman field guide. After flipping back and forth several times, noting key field marks and making comparisons, I had it… Another new yard visitor, and another new lifer.
Welcome to the flock, pine warbler.
How amazing to me to pin down two such similar warblers within just a few weeks of each other, when they’d both been causing me grief and frustration for more than a year. It is so interesting, then, that as the pine warbler has reappeared in my yard and at my feeder regularly since that identification confirmation, I’ve found it easier and easier to be confident about which bird it is. While the prairie warbler has yet to return – at least within my field of view – it will be just as welcome, as all birds are.
Here’s to finding many more lifers, many more warbler visits, and much more birding excitement and enjoyment in the months and years to come!