When it comes to our backyard birds, honestly speaking, we love each and every one of our feathered friends and truly enjoy viewing and interacting with species of all kinds.

That said, we do have an extremely special place reserved in our hearts for our tiny (and busy) warblers.

These small birds are so diverse that they have actually been divided into two distinct categories; Old World Warblers and New World Warblers. Just as their titles suggest, the New World Warblers are the species we are accustomed to seeing here throughout North America while their counterparts exist in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific portions of the globe.

With well over 100 different New World species to choose from here in North America, there is no shortage of opportunities to interact with these fascinating birds and if you ask us, you’d be hard-pressed to find another group as interesting.

But what is it that makes these birds so special…so unique?  Well, there’s plenty!

With this in mind, let’s break down some common warbler characteristics that make them so special to us here at Gilligallou.

Migration Patterns

Given the diversity of these birds, we are treated to an incredibly extended viewing season as some species will arrive here in our region as early as March or April and in extreme cases, can stick with us until as late as November or December. Here in Eastern Ontario, most warblers make our region their home during the breeding season and summer before heading back south but all arrive and depart at varying times. This gives us an extremely unique opportunity to enjoy many different species throughout a 7 to 8-month period.

Plumage Transitions

Viewing a warbler in the spring is completely different than viewing the same bird in the fall months. These birds are vibrant in every meaning of the word. They are colourful, the males sing their hearts out and they can most commonly be spotted flittering and fluttering high in the tree tops above, treating birders to a unique experience all their own.

Given that their plumage transitions can be so stark, they ultimately offer birders two challenging identification periods – can you identify them both in the spring and the fall?  Take the challenge, we’d bet you’d be surprised as to how different they can appear.

The Challenge

While these are a perching bird, the truth is, you’d be hard-pressed to catch one at one of your feeders. These birds feast primarily on insects, so the real challenge lies in getting out in the field and locating them on your own. Where they like to hang out can vary based on the different species but having a look in the trees in densely forested areas is a good place to start. Warbler watching is a pastime you won’t soon regret and is one that can involve including friends, family, and children alike.


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