Thursday, April 26, 2007

Meet Our Prairie Warbler

Our spring–summer resident prairie warbler got in early on Tuesday morning, after spending the winter in the Sunny Tropical Southland. He shouted out his glorious song, rising up the chromatic scale, from halfway out the meadow--the same place he held a territory last summer.

Zick and I sallied forth with our cameras hoping for a bit of luck. The words of our friend and master digiscoper Clay Taylor echoing in our heads: "Prairie warblers are the hardest songbird to photograph! I've NEVER gotten a good shot of one!"

The prairie warbler as we first saw him.

The western edge of our meadow is covered in the kind of brushy, scrubby stuff prairies love. It's got multiflora rose and sumac, saplings of several tree species, Japanese honeysuckle, and grape vines. And the middle-aged woods rise up behind this messy edge, tall tulip poplars, aspens, oaks, and maples, creating the perfect blend of buggy paradise, thick cover, and exceptional nesting and singing spots for songbirds.

A few minutes after tracking our singing male prairie, we found him about 25 feet high in a sumac/honeysuckle tangle. He sang as he foraged, seeming to ignore our movement closer to him as easily as he ignored our pishing.

Then, as if possessed by a magic spell, he came closer, then closer still. All the while he sang and foraged. And we went into full photo-monger mode. Our cameras clicked and beeped as we choked back our giggles at our good fortune.

Crouching prairie, hidden cloacal protuberance.

It lasted just a few minutes, then he was gone. But he'd given us a memorable show. We shared views of our images, high-fived a few times. Then I headed back to the house to work on a book project and Zick headed out to the orchard to continue to try her shutterbug luck.

Here are a few of my best shots from the morning. Check out Julie's blog for her excellent pix.

Spring is here, at long last.

Perhaps a bit curious about the clicking and beeping of our cameras.

Singing for all he's worth from an apple branch.

Prairie warbler badonkadonk. Dig the red neck! He fits right in here on the farm!

Is THIS his best side?

Or is THIS his best side? Or is it the badonkadonk?

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At 9:02 PM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

You beat me to it, Big Stuff. My post's not going up until Monday. Essentially the same shots from a different perspective: one foot lower. Boy, that was fun, shooting birds with you, without net or blind. Oooh, I think I'm addicted.

At 9:41 PM, Blogger kevbosnafu said...

Amazing shots!

I've just started birding (after working at Houghton in Boston for 20 years and being surrounded by field guides) and am intrigued by warblers.

At 10:26 PM, Blogger The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Great pix. I need to get one of them there blinds.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Susan Gets Native said...


At 6:35 AM, Blogger Jayne said...


At 7:16 AM, Blogger BT3 said...

Sorry. Did not mean to steal your thunder!

Warblers are the best! Especially this time of year!

Zen BF:
I didn't use the blind for these pix--it was just pure luck.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Rondeau Ric said...

Persistence times effort equals luck.
Cool photos.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Piddler said...

I'm learning lots of good stuff from you and your spouse. The enthusiasm of the two of you is infectious. While lying abed yesterday morning I heard a new song from outside my window. Ooooo-OOOOO-ooooo, ooo, ooo, like a child's train whistle, accented second syllable with two short toots at the end. By the time I got outside to look for the singer, he/she was gone. Based on this poor description, can you tell me who my visitor to southwest Ohio might have been?

At 8:59 PM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

Science Chimp sez: Mourning dove!
u snooze u looze BOTB
pardon me svp

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous katdoc said...

Wonderful Warbler! This is one still missing from my Life List - I'm hoping to get one this year.

Piddler: Sounds like a Mourning Dove to me, but I'll let BOTB make the final diagnosis.


At 9:13 PM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

Katdoc, we are all over BOTB's blog, while he eats popcorn with his Hotdog Brother in the living room. Hee hee hee. Shall we gang up on him at the New River festival? Let's!

At 11:54 AM, Blogger BT3 said...


Science Chimp and Katdoc are right, gotta be a mourning dove.

Sorry for my delayed reply.


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