Tag Archives: Birding

Vireos of Pennsylvania (6 Species to Know)

Vireos are small, quick moving birds that can sometimes be difficult to get a look at. Most of them migrate in springtime right along with the warblers, and most have distinctive songs and calls. In Pennsylvania, there are six vireo species that move through the state with some being very common and others being rarer. Here is everything you need to know about those six species.

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireos
Identification

The aptly named Blue-headed Vireo has a grayish-blue head, a white eye ring, an olive-colored back and wings, and with white wing bars. They have a light underside with yellowish sides.

Range

Blue-headed Vireos winter in Central America, eastern Mexico, and the southwestern United States. In spring they spread north through the eastern U.S. and into their breeding areas in the northeastern U.S. and southern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Blue-headed Vireos feed on a variety of different insects including larva such as caterpillars. They also eat spiders and some fruits. Blue-headed Vireos are fairly active hunters, usually searching out prey from near the tree trunks. They will actively chase after food items too.

Where to Find This Bird

Blue-headed Vireos inhabit many different types of forests including deciduous and coniferous. Unlike many other eastern vireo species, Blue-headed Vireos do not shy away from stands of evergreens to breed in. During migration, they make stop overs in insect rich areas such as trees and bushes lining streams and rivers.

Philadelphia Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Philadelphia Vireos have a brownish gray cap, back, and wings. They have a yellow throat and underside. There is more of a contrast between their cap and the rest of the face and underside than other similar looking vireo species such as Warbling and Bell’s. They have white striping around their eye.

Range

Philadelphia Vireos winter in Central America and southern Mexico. In spring, they move north to their breeding areas all across southern Canada and in some of the most northern parts of the midwestern and northeastern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Philadelphia Vireos eat a variety of insects and other small invertebrates. Some common prey items include caterpillars and spiders. They will also eat some fruits.

Where to Find This Bird

Philadelphia Vireos can be found in forested areas, near rivers, and in places with thick underbrush. For people living in the continental United States, the best time to see this species is usually during migration where hey mix in with other small birds.

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo
Identification

Red-eyed Vireos have an olive-colored back, a light underside, a grayish blue cap, and a light-colored eye stripe edged in darker blue to black. They have a namesake red eye that sets them apart from most other vireo species in United States.

Range

Red-eyed Vireos winter in northern South America, then move north into the continental United States and Canada to spend the summer. In the U.S., this species inhabits most of the midwestern and eastern states. They also summer in every state bordering Canada, even Washington.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Red-eyed Vireos have diets that vary depending on the time of year. In summer they feed primarily on insects, while other times of the year they eat more plant matter and fruit.

Where to Find This Bird

Red-eyed Vireos can be found in forested areas consisting of deciduous or mixed deciduous trees. When the trees are leafy, they are easier to hear than they are to see as they spend much of their time up in the canopy.

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo – Photo by Yellowstone National Park
Identification

Warbling Vireos have a brown back, head, and wings. Their underside is a yellowish cream color, and they have a white stripe above and below their eye.

Range

Warbling Vireos spend the winter in Central America and southern Mexico. In spring they move north into most of the continental United States and western Canada where they spend the summer.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Warbling vireos are insectivores and eat a variety of beetles, flies, and caterpillars. They forage high up in trees and pick prey off of leaves and branches.

Where to Find This Bird

Warbling Vireos are most often found in deciduous woods or even just stands of deciduous trees. Since they usually forage high up in trees, the easiest way to locate one is often times to hear them singing. The song of the Warbling Vireo is very bubbly and sounds like one long run-on sentence.

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

White-eyed Vireos have a gray head, an olive green back, two white wing bars on each side, and a light underside with a yellow wash. One of their most distinctive features is their white eye. They also have yellow on their face from the base of their bill over their eye.

Range

White-eyed Vireos winter in some of the northern Central American countries, Eastern Mexico, and the southeastern United States. They move north in the spring and reside in most of the northeastern states south of Wisconsin and Michigan. White-eyed Vireos are very common in the states in the southeastern U.S. and are rare visitors in northern states in the Midwest and Northeast.

Diet and Foraging Habits

White-eyed Vireos eat a wide variety of insects including moths, caterpillars, beetles, and pretty much anything small enough for them to catch and consume. Their diet also consists of some fruits as well.

Where to Find This Bird

White-eyed Vireos reside in places with thicker understories including near streams and rivers, overgrown field edges, and deciduous or mixed woods. Look for this species moving quickly through bushes and shrubs from around 6 to 12 feet off the ground.

Yellow-throated Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo
Identification

Yellow-throated Vireos have a yellow head, face, and of course throat. Their throat is a brighter color of yellow than the rest of their head which is darker, and they have brighter yellow around their eye as well. The back and wings of this species are gray, and they have a white underside. Overall, they are very sporty looking birds.

Range

Yellow-throated Vireos winter in northern South America, Central America, southern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring, they move north into most of the eastern United States and some of the southeastern parts of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Yellow-throated Vireos eat insects, small invertebrates, and occasionally plant matter such as seeds and fruits. They tend to forage higher up in trees than other species.

Where to Find This Bird

Yellow-throated Vireos can be found in deciduous forests where they can be found around gaps and forest edges. Their preferred habitats tend to be larger forests as opposed to small groves of trees. Look for this species in the mid to high canopy foraging and dinging.

Summary

Vireos are small and quick moving birds that can be enjoyable to view and sometimes tricky to identify. We hope that this post has helped to answer some questions about the vireos of Pennsylvania.

Cuckoos of Pennsylvania (2 Species to Know)

Cuckoos are slender, medium sized birds, known for being difficult to find. Due to their secretive nature, they can be exciting for birders to see in the wild. In Pennsylvania, there are two species of cuckoos that can be found on an annual basis. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

Black-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Black-billed Cuckoos have a brown head, back, wings, and tail with a white underside. As their name would suggest, they have a black bill and a red eye.

Range

Black-billed Cuckoos winter in the northwestern part of South America. In spring they migrate north into northeastern and northcentral United States along with southern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Black-billed Cuckoos feed primarily on insects (especially caterpillars). In nonbreeding season, they also eat fruits and other plant matter such as seeds.

Where to Find this Bird

Black-billed Cuckoos are found in forests, edge habitat, woodlands, and marshes with numerous trees. They can be extremely elusive and are difficult to get eyes on even if they are in the area.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Yellow-billed Cuckoos have a brown head, back, and wings. Their long tails are black with white at the end of the feathers giving their tails a spotted appearance. These birds have a clean white underside and a yellow bill with some black on the upper mandible.

Range

Yellow-billed Cuckoos winter throughout most of South America with the exception of the most southern and western parts of the country. In spring, they move north inhabiting the Carribean, parts of Mexico, the eastern United States, southeastern Canada, and seemingly random pockets in the western United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

A large portion of the Yellow-billed Cuckoos diet consists of caterpillars. They will often find large quantities of tent caterpillars, fall webworms, and spongy moths. Aside from caterpillars they will also eat other types of insects and small invertebrates along with some types of fruits and seeds.

Where to Find this Bird

Yellow-billed Cuckoos frequent woodlands (especially woodlands with water nearby), scrublands with thick bushes, and even stands of trees in otherwise more open areas.

Summary

Cuckoos are goofy and elusive birds that are always fun to see in the field but can sometimes be tough to identify. We hope this post has helped you learn about and identify the Cuckoos of Pennsylvania.

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Warblers of Pennsylvania (36 Species to Know)

Warblers are vibrant, small, colorful birds that are a major highlight of spring migration. Pennsylvania is home to a wide variety of Warbler species. Some of them breed in in the state while others just pass through. Here is everything you need to know about the warblers of Pennsylvania.

American Redstart

Male American Redstart – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Female American Redstart – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Male American Redstarts have a black head, wings, back, and tail. They also have black on their chest and an otherwise white underside. While the black color on these birds is certainly spiffy, their most defining feature is their orange color on their sides, wings, and tail. Females look quite different having a gray head, light underside, brownish back, wings, and tail, and the orange of the male is exchanged with yellow in the same places. Females also have a white eye ring.

Range

American Redstarts winter in northern South America, Central America, the Caribbean, southern Mexico, Baja California, and Southern California. In spring, they not only spread out through the eastern United States but also much of the western United States. They breed in most of the eastern United States and much of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

American Redstarts are very active foragers and will catch prey in flight more than most other warbler species. They feed mostly on insects but will also eat fruits such as berries.

Where to Find this Bird

American Redstarts can be found mostly in deciduous forests during their breeding season. They tend to live and forage in the middle to high parts of the canopy. During spring migration it’s more common to see them lower down, especially around streams actively searching for food.

Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Male Bay-breasted Warblers are extremely unique looking warblers with a reddish-brown (bay) colored cap, chin, and sides, a cream colored back of the neck, gray and black striped back, and white wing bars. Males also have a dark black mask over their eyes. Females look nothing like the males, having mostly gray backs and wings with lighter colored undersides. They do still have the white wing bars and show light striping on their back.

Range

Bay-breasted Warblers winter in northern South America, some countries in Central America, and the Caribbean. In spring, they move up into the eastern United States, eventually ending up in Canada and some of the most northern states in the continental U.S. such as Maine and northern Minnesota.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Bay-breasted Warblers primarily feed on insects (particularly the larvae and pupae of spruce budworm) but will also feed on some fruits as well.

Where to Find this Bird

For people in the United States, Bay-breasted Warblers are easiest to see during migration. They tend to forage in the middle parts of trees but during migration will drop down a bit lower than when they’re on their breeding grounds.

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler – Photo by Wayne National Forest
Identification

Black-and-white Warblers are white with complex black striping. They have the most black on their wings and tail along with stripes on their head and underside. Males have a darker black patch on the side of their face than females as well as a black chin which females lack. Both males and females have white eye rings.

Range

Black-and-white Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, Mexico, and some of the southern states in the US. In spring they move north, breeding in many of the eastern states and much of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Black-and-white Warblers feed mostly on insects and other small invertebrates. They forage in a fashion similar to that of nuthatches, clinging to trees and inspecting crevices in branches. Unlike Brown Creepers which at first glance can look similar to Black-and-white Warblers, these birds move any and all directions as they forage whereas Brown Creepers only go up the tree.

Where to Find this Bird

Black-and-white Warblers can be found in mixed forest throughout the year. In some parts of their wintering areas they will be in more tropical forests, but they also winter in areas like South Texas. The best way to spot them is to look for a bird working tree trunks and branches.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Female Black-throated Blue
Identification

Male Black-throated Blue Warblers are very distinctive with a deep blue back, dark gray to black wings, black on the face, chin, and sides, and a clean white underside. They also have a noticeable patch of white on each wing. Females are drastically different with buff-y coloration on the body and darker gray to brown on the head and wings. They also have a pale eye stripe and a hint of blue on their wings and head.

Range

Black-throated Blue Warblers winter in Central America, parts of eastern Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands. In spring they move north through the eastern United States ending up in their breeding locations in southeastern Canada, New England, parts of the northern Midwest, and the Appalachian Mountains.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Black-throated Blue Warblers feed mostly on insects but will also eat some fruits. Like all warblers they are active foragers.

Where to Find this Bird

During their time in North America, Black-throated Blue Warblers can be found in deciduous or mixed coniferous forests. They are often seen foraging lower in the canopy but not usually on the ground.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler – Alan Schmierer
Identification

Black-throated Green Warblers have a yellowish green back with the same color on the top of the head and the cheeks. The rest of their face is a brighter yellow. These birds have gray wings with white wing bars. Males have a dark black throat with black streaking on their sides. Females have less black on their throat. Both males and females have white undersides and yellow near their undertail.

Range

Black-throated Green Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, parts of Mexico, the Carribean, and the most southern parts of Florida. In spring, they move north into the northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, and the Appalachian Mountain states.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Black-throated Green Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. During nonbreeding season, they will also eat buds and fruits.

Where to Find this Bird

Black-throated Green Warblers reside in a variety of different types of forests where they are usually found higher up in the treetops. Fortunately, these birds have a very distinctive song, sounding like “zee zee zee zu zee.”

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler – Photo by Kevin Bolton
Identification

Blackburnian Warblers are among the most beautiful warblers. Males have a black back and wings with white markings on the wings and just behind the neck. Their underside is white with some black streaks, but its their face that really stands out. In addition to a black pattern that goes over the eye and on the forehead, these birds have a gradient mix of yellow and orange. Female and immature males have a grayer back and show duller colored facial patterns as well as duller yellow on the face and chest.

Range

Blackburnian Warblers winter in northern and northeastern South America. During spring they move into the United States and Canada to breed, ending up in the northeastern states, midwestern states, and states around the Appalachian Mountains.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Blackburnian Warblers eat various insects (particularly spruce budworms) as well as other invertebrates that they actively search for.

Where to Find this Bird

Blackburnian Warblers are generally found high up in the canopy where the males orangey-yellow throat is visible. They breed in coniferous and mixed coniferous forests. Oftentimes, to get a good look at one, the best time is during migration when they will occasionally come down lower in the branches to feed.

Blackpoll Warbler

Male Blackpoll Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Male Blackpoll Warblers have have a black cap, gray, black, and white striped back, and hints of yellow on their wings. They have a white underside with black streaking, and a white cheek. Females look extremely different, sporting a mostly gray body with a darker colored head, back, and wings. They also have a tinge of yellow on their wings and head. Both males and females have distinctive orange legs, unique among warblers.

Range

Blackpoll Warblers winter in northern South America and migrate all the way into Canada and Alaska to breed, making their way through the eastern United States in the spring and fall.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Blackpoll Warblers eat mostly insects and other small invertebrates, but will also eat fruit, particularly during fall. These birds usually feed around five feet or more off the ground.

Where to Find this Bird

Blackpoll Warblers breed extremely far north in Canada and Alaska, so the best time to find them is during migration. Look for them in the middle to high parts of trees in usual places where warblers turn up such as streams, parks, and woodlands.

Blue-winged Warbler

Blue-winged Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Blue-winged Warblers are yellow with a thin, black stripe over their eyes. They have two white wing bars on their wings that are grayer than they are blue. The same color on their wings is also on their tail and their undertail is significantly paler than their underside.

Range

Blue-winged Warblers winter in Central America, the Carribean, and eastern Mexico. in spring they move into the eastern United States, spending the summer in the more northern part of the eastern U.S.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Blue-winged Warblers are very active foragers, moving in a way similar to chickadees. They feed on insects as well as other small invertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Blue-winged Warblers breed along forest edges, in thickets and scrub, along with more open wooded areas. They can be located by listening for their distinctive “bee-buzz” call.

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Canada Warblers have a slate gray head, back, wings, and tail. Their underside is bright yellow, and they have a black “necklace” on their chest. They have black coloring on their face as well and sport a bold, white eye ring. Females look very similar to the males but don’t have nearly much black on their chest.

Range

Canada Warblers winter in northwestern South America and southern Central America. In spring, they move north, breeding in southern Canada, the northeastern United States, and some of the Appalachian Mountain states.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Canada Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates which they actively hunt for. They will take flying insects on the wing.

Where to Find this Bird

Canada Warblers are most easy to find during migration when they show up along with other small migratory birds in typical warbler habitats such as forests and along rivers and streams. In the breeding season, these birds tend to gravitate toward forests with a lot of moss and ground cover such as ferns. They can be seen moving around lower in the trees but not usually on the ground.

Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler – Photo by Susan Young
Identification

Cape May Warblers have a yellowish gray back and wings, white wing bars, and a yellow underside with dark streaking. The most distinctive feature of these birds is their head and face. They have a dark cap, yellow chin and nape of the neck, and reddish cheeks. Females look similar but are duller in coloration.

Range

Cape May Warblers winter in Central America, parts of eastern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring, they move north into the eastern United States. They end up breeding in Canada and some of the most northern states in the Midwest.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Cape May Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates, especially spruce budworm. They will also eat nectar from flowers and hummingbird feeders in addition to berries.

Where to Find this Bird

Cape May Warblers breed in conifer forests, particularly spruce and fir. During migration they show up in a wide variety of locations. Search for them in places other warblers and migratory species frequent.

Cerulean Warbler

Male Cerulean Warbler
Identification

Male Cerulean Warblers are incredibly beautiful with a brilliant blue back and wings, white underside, and blue “necklace.” They have a white chin, blue striping on the flanks, and some black mixed in on their wings and tail. An additional feature to note are their two white wing bars. Females look something like a male that was washed in yellow. They have a greenish blue head, back, and rump. Females have wing bars too, but they are more yellowish than the clean white of the males.

Range

Cerulean Warblers winer in the northern and northeastern parts of South America. In spring, they migrate north to their breeding areas in the eastern United States. They do not breed as far north as many other warbler species, only just barely making it into Canada in the Great Lakes region.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Cerulean Warblers primarily feed on insects which they pick from leaves and branches in the treetops.

Where to Find this Bird

Cerulean Warblers breed in deciduous forests and live high up in the canopy. They can often be heard before they are seen as they make their buzzy calls. Due to their pension for living in the treetops, these birds can be difficult to see especially if the leaves have already grown in.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Chestnut-sided Warblers have a gray and black mottled back, a black marking from their mouth to the back of their head, and a yellow cap. They have a white underside, white cheeks, and a namesake chestnut-colored stripe down their side. Females look similar but their colors aren’t quite as bright.

Range

Chestnut-sided Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, parts of Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring they move north, breeding in the northeastern United States as well as Canada, parts of the northern Midwest, and the Appalachian Mountains.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Chestnut-sided Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. In particular, they eat caterpillars and other larvae which they pick from leaves and branches.

Where to Find this Bird

Chestnut-sided Warblers breed in areas altered in some way (usually deciduous forest). Typically, these areas have been previously burned or logged and are in the process of regrowing. During migration, they can be found in a wide variety of habitats.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Common Yellowthroats have an olive-colored back, wings, and tail, and a yellow underside. They have a black mask with white above the black. Females lack the black mask and are grayer overall but still have a bright yellow throat.

Range

Common yellowthroats winter in Central America, Mexico, the Carribean, and parts of the southern United States. In spring, they move north into almost every part of the continental United States with the exception of some of the southwestern states. They also breed in southern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Common Yellowthroats feed on a variety of different insects as well as other small invertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Common Yellowthroats can be found in open areas such as brushy fields, marshes, oak savannas, and edge habitat. Since they stay hidden much of the time, listening for their rapid songs can be the best way to locate them. They sound like “wichity-wichity-wichity-wichity.”

Connecticut Warbler (Uncommon)

Connecticut Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Connecticut Warblers have a brown back, gray head, and yellow underside. They have black where their gray hood meets their chest but the amount of black varies depending on the individual. Females look similar but are slightly paler.

Range

Connecticut Warblers winter in northern South America and have a very limited range as they migrate north in spring, not encompassing nearly as much of the eastern U.S. as most other warbler species. They breed in the conifer forests of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Connecticut Warblers primarily feed on insects but will also eat fruits from time to time. These birds have a unique foraging habit as they walk along the ground looking for food as opposed to hopping. They may also forage higher in trees as well if that’s where the insects are.

Where to Find this Bird

Connecticut Warblers are notoriously difficult to get a look at due to their sulky nature. People living in the northern Midwest can take a trip to the boreal forests where they nest and listen for their songs. Otherwise, the best time to see them is during migration when they move through and get reported for a week or two. Look for a bird staying low to the ground, and you may get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these skulky birds.

Golden-winged Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Golden-winged Warblers have a gray back, a yellow cap, and a light underside. They also have a yellow wingbar on each wing, a black throat, and a black marking on their otherwise white colored face. Females look extremely similar but display a bit more yellow on their back.

Range

Golden-winged Warblers winter in the northwestern part of South America, Central America, and the southern part of Mexico. In spring they move north and breed in the northeastern part of the continental United States, the Midwest, and some parts of southeastern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Golden-winged Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates that they search for amongst leaves and branches.

Where to Find this Bird

For many people in the United States, the best time to find Golden-winged Warblers is during migration. For people living in their breeding range, looking for semi open damp shrubby habitats and thickets can be a good way to find them. Listen for their songs that sound like “Bee buzz buzz buzz,” very similar to a Blue-winged Warbler but with extra buzzes at the end.

Hooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Identification

Hooded Warblers have an olive-colored back, grayish wings, and a gray tail with lighter colored feathers on the outside of the tail. Their underside is bright yellow as well as their face, and they have a namesake black hood around their head to their chin. Females do not have a full hood but still show partial black coloration on the top of their head. These warblers have lighter colored feathers on the outsides of their tails that are visible in flight.

Range

Hooded Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, eastern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring they move north and breed in the southeastern United States. In terms of eastern warblers, Hooded Warblers do not move as far north to breed as many others do.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Hooded Warblers feed on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates either picking them from leaves or picking them from the ground.

Where to Find this Bird

Hooded Warblers breed in deciduous forests or mixed conifer forests. Look for them in the middle to lower parts of the dense forest. keep in mind however that they do spend some time high in the canopy as well.

Kentucky Warbler

Kentucky Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Kentucky Warblers have a yellow-olive colored back and tail. Their underside is bright yellow, and they have distinctive black “teardrop” markings under their eyes. Males have a dark black cap while females have a dark gray cap.

Range

Kentucky Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, eastern Mexico and the Caribbean. In spring they move north into the eastern United States, but their breeding range does not include some of the more northern states in the region such as Michigan and Maine.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Kentucky Warblers eat insects and other small invertebrates such as spiders. They feed low to the ground and often times even on the ground, searching the substrate for prey. They will also eat some fruits.

Where to Find this Bird

Kentucky Warblers can be found in dense forests with thick bushes and understory. Due to their habitat, they can often be heard easier than they are seen. Their song actually sounds quite similar to that of the Carolina Wren.

Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Louisiana Waterthrushes have a brown back, head, and wings along with a light cream-colored underside. They have dark streaking on their underside and a cream-colored eyebrow stripe. Another feature to note are their bubblegum pink legs.

Range

Louisiana Waterthrushes winter in northern South America, Central America, the Carribean, and parts of Mexico. In spring they move north, inhabiting much of the eastern United States during the breeding season.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

As their name would suggest, Louisiana Waterthrushes spend a lot of time foraging along the water. They feed on terrestrial and aquatic insects and invertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Louisiana Waterthrushes can be found along the edges of clear streams, especially in mature forests. Keep an eye out for a bird along the water’s edge bobbing its tail. They usually prefer quicker moving water than Northern Waterthrushes do.

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Magnolia Warblers have a black back, black mask on their face, and a bright yellow underside with black streaking. They have white markings on their wings, a white lower eye crescent, a white eye-brow stripe, and a gray head. Female and immature birds have less black and show a white eye ring.

Range

Magnolia Warblers winter in Central America, southern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring they move north into the eastern United States and breed in southern Canada, the most northern states in the Midwest, and the Northeast.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Magnolia Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. In their breeding range, spruce budworm is a major food source.

Where to Find this Bird

During migration Magnolia Warblers can be found in forests, near streams, and in other areas frequented by migratory bird species. During the breeding season, these birds can be found in conifer and mixed conifer forests.

Mourning Warbler

Mourning Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Mourning Warblers have a bluish-gray head, olive-colored backs and wings, and yellow undersides. They have darker coloration by the base of their bill and eye. Males do not have an eye ring or eye crescents which helps to separate them from other species such as Nashville Warblers and Connecticut Warblers. Males also have a black bib on their chest. Female and immature birds lack the black bib and can show an eye ring which can be confusing when trying to make a correct identification.

Range

Mourning Warblers winter in northwestern South America and Central America. In spring, they move north into the northeastern United States and Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mourning Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. They forage lower in shrubs and bushes than many other warbler species and can also be seen along the ground searching for food as well.

Where to Find this Bird

Mourning Warblers can be found in forests that have a lot of understory growth. A lot of places they inhabit include areas that have been burned, logged, or otherwise disturbed by humans.

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warber – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Nashville Warblers have a gray head, greenish-brown colored back, and yellow underside. Their chin is also yellow, and some other features of note are their bold white eye rings, and orangey color barely visible on the top of the males head. Females look very similar to the males but with colors that are slightly more muted. From beneath, these birds can be identified by their yellow chest, lighter almost white color near their legs, and their yellow undertail.

Range

Nashville Warblers winter in southern Mexico, western California, and some countries in Central America. In spring they spread far and wide across the United States ending up in their breeding areas in the northwestern, northeastern, and midwestern part of the state. They also breed in the southern parts of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Nashville Warblers primarily feed on insects which they usually find high in the treetops. Some have also been known to eat suet.

Where to Find this Bird

Nashville Warblers are said to forage in the middle parts of trees, but in my experience, they are one of the birds that usually spends most of their time fairly high up in the canopy.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Northern Parulas have a blueish gray head, wings, and rump. They have a yellow back, white wing bars, and white eye crescents. They have a yellow throat and chest with males having dark red on their chest as well. The rest of their underside is white. Females look similar but are not quite as colorful and do not have red on their chest.

Range

Northern Parulas winter in parts of eastern Central America, southeastern Mexico, the Carribean, and parts of the southern United States such as Florida and South Texas. In spring, they move north into most of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Most of the Northern Parulas diet consists of insects and spiders but they also eat fruits, and nectar.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Parulas tend to spend most of their time in the canopy in forested areas. Sometimes the best way to find them is to listen for their “zipper” songs.

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Northern Waterthrushes have a brown back, wings, head, and tail. They have a yellowish cream-colored underside with brown streaking and a yellowish cream-colored eyebrow stripe. Northern Waterthrushes generally have more underside streaking and are more yellowish in color than Louisiana Waterthrushes, but the two species can pose identification issues.

Range

Northern Waterthrushes winter in northern South America, Central America, much of Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring they move north inhabiting an impressive number of areas including the northeastern and midwestern United States, Canada, Alaska, and even parts of the northwestern U.S.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Waterthrushes eat a variety of insects and invertebrates both aquatic and terrestrial. They wade into the water and will eat larval insects such as caddisflies. They have also been known to eat small vertebrates such as fish.

Where to Find this Bird

During migration, Northern Waterthrushes can be found along a variety of different water sources including rivers, streams, and wetlands. During their breeding season, they spend most of their time in places with standing water such as damp forests. Look for a bird near the water’s edge or in thick underbrush bobbing its tail.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Orange-crowned Warblers can vary in coloration depending on region and maturity. Most of the time, they are a dull yellowish color with yellow undertail coverts and a rarely noticeable orange spot on the top of their head. However, in some regions and in immature birds, they can be grayer overall and look fairly similar to Tennessee Warblers. Orange-crowned Warblers have an eye ring that can be paler or more yellow which also depends on region and maturity.

Range

Orange-crowned Warblers winter in northern Central America, Mexico, and the southern United States, making them one of the more northern wintering warbler species. They also winter along the pacific coast of the continental United States. In spring, they move north, breeding in Canada, Alaska, and the western U.S.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Orange-crowned Warblers have one of the most varied diets of any warbler species. They eat insects and other small invertebrates, sap, berries, seeds, suet, and even nectar from flowers. They forage in all levels of vegetation from near the forest floor to the canopy.

Where to Find this Bird

Orange-crowned Warblers will be in slightly different habitats depending on the time of the year and region. In the east, they are most easily found during migration in usual migrant stopovers. In winter, look for them in areas with thick vegetation such as woods and scrubby thickets.

Ovenbird

Ovenbird – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Ovenbirds have a reddish-brown back, wings, tail, and head, a white underside with black streaking, and a bold white eye ring. They have two black stripes on their crown with a thicker orange stripe in between.

Range

Ovenbirds winter in northern South America, Central America, Mexico, the Carribean, and Florida. In spring, the move north, breeding in the northeastern, and midwestern United States, as well as parts of eastern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ovenbirds feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates. They are known for being adaptable with their food sources and will alter their feeding style and food sources to match with what is most abundant at the time. They will even sometimes eat seeds. Most of the time they tend to forage along the ground but will also feed in bushes and trees.

Where to Find this Bird

In their breeding areas, Ovenbirds are very vocal and can be tracked down by their loud songs. Look for a bird moving along the ground when in large forests but do note that they may also be up higher in the canopy as well.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Palm Warblers have a rufous colored cap, a yellow eyebrow stripe, brown wings, and a brown tail. Their throat is yellow, and their underside is varying degrees of yellow depending on the subspecies. Some other notable features are their yellow rump and yellow undertail. It’s not just the look of this species that can help identify it but also the behavior. Palm Warblers are known for bobbing their tail similar to waterthrushes, this can be a useful diagnostic clue in the field.

Range

Palm Warblers winter in Central America, western Mexico, the Caribbean, the southeastern United States, and oddly enough, western California. In spring they move north into the eastern United States and Canada. Some of the states in the continental U.S. that these birds breed in include Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Palm Warblers feed primarily on insects, but will also eat seeds and some fruits including berries.

Where to Find this Bird

Palm Warblers are different than many other warblers as they are not relegated to trees and thick vegetation. They will often forage along the ground and oftentimes associate more with sparrows than with other warblers.

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Pine Warblers have an olive-yellow colored head and back along with a bright yellow throat. They have gray wings with white wing bars, and a white back part of their underside. Another feature to note is their yellow eye ring. Females look very similar but are slightly paler.

Range

Pine Warblers winter in the southeastern United States and some of the islands in the Carribean. In spring, some stay in these areas to breed, but others move north, inhabiting most of the eastern United States and just barely reaching into southeastern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Pine Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. They will also eat berries and seeds, making them one of the handful of warblers that will actually over winter in colder climates and visit bird feeders.

Where to Find this Bird

During migration, Pine Warblers can be seen along with other warblers in a variety of different habitats. When in their breeding areas, they live in pine and mixed pine forests where they can be heard making a trilling call that sounds very similar to a Chipping Sparrow.

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Identification

Prairie Warblers have an olive-yellow colored head, dark gray wings, and a chestnut-colored patch on their back. Their throat and underside are bright yellow with black streaking. On their face they have a black and yellow pattern distinctive to the species. Female and immature birds look similar but with a grayer head and face along with more muted colors.

Range

Prairie Warblers winter in parts of Central America, the Carribean, and Florida. In spring they move north into much of the eastern United States but don’t end up nearly as far north as other eastern warbler species with only small pockets of their range being in the Midwest and Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Prairie Warblers feed on insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. They will also consume some fruits and other plants.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Prairie Warblers in shrubby areas without dense canopy. These may include burned forests, recently logged forests or simply more scrubby areas with few large trees. Listen for their song that sounds like an ascending buzz.

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler
Identification

Prothonotary Warblers have an olive-colored back, gray wings, and a bright glowing yellow head and body.

Range

Prothonotary Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, eastern Mexico, parts of the Carribean, and some states in the southeastern U.S. In spring they move into the eastern United States where they do not make it as far north as many other eastern warblers.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Prothonotary Warblers have diets that vary depending on the time of the year. During breeding season, they eat insects, and other invertebrates. During the nonbreeding season fruits and seeds make up a larger portion of their diet.

Where to Find this Bird

Prothonotary Warblers are sometimes known as “Swamp Warblers” because of the habitats they typically reside in. Look for these birds in swamps, flooded forests, and sometimes even marshes.

Swainson’s Warbler (Rare)

Swainson’s Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Swainson’s Warblers have a brown back, wings, tail, and cap on their head. Their underside is lighter in color raining from light gray to cream in color. These birds also have a light colored stripe just above their eye.

Range

Swainson’s Warblers winter in the Caribbean as well as some of the northern countries in Central America. In spring they move north breeding throughout the southeastern United States.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Swainson’s Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates (typically those that live along the ground and in the leaf litter.) They will sometimes hawk flying insects from out of the air as well.

Where to Find this Bird

Swainson’s Warblers can be found in forests with thick understory and a lot of leaf litter. They prefer damp forests that are not flooded but still wet. Since they often reside in dense vegetation, hearing them can oftentimes be the best way to locate them.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler – Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie
Identification

Male Yellow Warblers are bright yellow with grayish-yellow wings and reddish-brown streaking on their chest and underside. Females look similar but aren’t quite as brightly colored and lack the streaking on their underside.

Range

Yellow Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, parts of Mexico, the Carribean, and even a few states in the southern United States. In spring, they move north and inhabit just about every part of North America including almost all of Canada and even Alaska.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Yellow Warblers are insectivores and actively hunt for prey, searching through leaves and branches to find a meal.

Where to Find this Bird

Yellow Warblers can be found in open areas. Some habitats to look for them in are marshes, shrubby fields, forest edges, and oak savannas.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler
Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Also called “butterbutts,” the Yellow-rumped Warbler is known for a patch of yellow that can be seen right above its tail. They also have yellow patches right below their wings on their sides. Males will have a black mask, white throat and overall gray and black coloration. Females look similar to males with more brown on the top of their head and back.

In the western part of North America, Yellow-rumped Warblers are slightly different looking and have a yellow throat. This subspecies is known as the “Audubon’s” subspecies. The eastern subspecies is known as the “Myrtle” subspecies.

Range

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is one of the most common warblers in North America. Their wintering range covers many of the southern and western states and their migratory path goes through the central and eastern U.S. In Summer, they spend most of their time in Canada, some of the northern U.S. and parts of the west.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

The Yellow-rumped Warblers diet consists mostly of insects during the summer, including caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers, and spiders. During winter, their diet consists mostly of fruits. They have also been known to eat seeds. When foraging, they can be seen in any part of a tree, on the ground, or picking off bugs and returning to the same branch, much like a flycatcher. In winter, they form large flocks of almost exclusively other Yellow-rumped Warblers, but during the spring and winter, they can be found in mixed foraging groups.

Where to Find this Bird

In most states in the U.S., Yellow-rumped Warblers are common in the spring and fall while migrating through and are often seen near water.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Yellow-throated Warblers have a grayish-blue back, head, and tail. They have dark wings with two wing bars. They have white markings above their eye and black by their eye going down the sides of their bright yellow namesake throat. These birds have a white underside with some black streaking and a white eye crescent on the lower part of their eye.

Range

Yellow-throated Warblers winter in Central America, parts of Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of the southern United States. In spring they head north, breeding in the southeastern United States and as far north as Ohio and southern Wisconsin.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Yellow-throated Warblers are insectivorous and will scour branches and conifer cones. They will also stake out flowers to pick off the insects that are attracted.

Where to Find this Bird

Yellow-throated Warblers operate in a similar way to Black-and-white Warblers climbing around tree branches. they tend to stick to the high canopy of trees however so seeing them can be a challenging task. In my personal experience, during migration this species can be seen lower to the ground while they forage.

Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Tennessee Warblers have a grayish-blue head, a greenish-yellow back and wings, and a light-colored underside. Females have a more yellow colored head, and both males and females have a light-colored stripe above their eye and white undertail coverts (an important feature to differentiate them from Orange-crowned Warblers).

Range

Tennessee Warblers winter in northeastern South America, Central America, southern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring, they move north into some of the most northern states in the continental U.S. and much of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tennessee Warblers feed on insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. During summer, caterpillars make up a massive part of their diet as well as spruce budworms. During the nonbreeding season they also feed on fruit and nectar from flowers.

Where to Find this Bird

Since Tennessee Warblers breed relatively far north in the continent, the best time for many people to see them is during migration. Whether during migration or on their breeding grounds, look for these birds foraging high up in the canopy flitting around the ends of branches.

Wilson’s Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Wilson’s Warblers have an olive-colored back, grayish wings, and a yellow body. Males have a black cap on the top of their head which female and immature birds lack.

Range

Wilson’s Warblers winter in Central America, parts of Mexico, Baja California, and some states in the southern U.S. In spring, they move north, breeding in Canada, Alaska, the northwestern United States, and the most northeastern parts of New England.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Wilson’s Warblers feed primarily on insects and other small invertebrates. They will also lap up honeydew which is a sugary substance secreted by some types of insects.

Where to Find this Bird

Wilson’s Warblers tend to reside in areas with thick understory. They will occupy forest edges as well, particularly near streams or other water sources.

Worm-eating Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler – Photo by Susan Young
Identification

Worm-eating Warblers have an olive-brown back, tan underside, and stripes on their head. They have a very long distinctive looking bill. In all, there aren’t any other warbler species in eastern North America that at all resemble this species.

Range

Worm-eating Warblers winter in Central America, southeastern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring, they move north into the southeastern United States. Out of all eastern warbler species, Worm-eating Warblers are among some of the most southern nesting, not typically making it very high into the Midwest or the Northeast.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Worm-eating Warblers do not actually readily consume worms, but do eat caterpillars, insects, spiders, and slugs. The name may come from their preference for caterpillars that are sometimes colloquially called “worms.”

Where to Find this Bird

Worm-eating Warblers reside in thick, dense forests and stay low near the forest floor which make them challenging to see. Listen for their trill-y calls that sound very similar to Pine Warblers and Chipping Sparrows.

Summary

Warblers are always a major highlight during migration and serve as something to look forward to every year. We hope this post has helped answer some questions about these beautiful and energetic birds.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Vireos of New Jersey (6 Species to Know)

Vireos are small, quick moving birds that can sometimes be difficult to get a look at. Most of them migrate in springtime right along with the warblers, and most have distinctive songs and calls. In New Jersey, there are six vireo species that move through the state with some being very common and others being rarer. Here is everything you need to know about those six species.

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireos
Identification

The aptly named Blue-headed Vireo has a grayish-blue head, a white eye ring, an olive-colored back and wings, and with white wing bars. They have a light underside with yellowish sides.

Range

Blue-headed Vireos winter in Central America, eastern Mexico, and the southwestern United States. In spring they spread north through the eastern U.S. and into their breeding areas in the northeastern U.S. and southern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Blue-headed Vireos feed on a variety of different insects including larva such as caterpillars. They also eat spiders and some fruits. Blue-headed Vireos are fairly active hunters, usually searching out prey from near the tree trunks. They will actively chase after food items too.

Where to Find This Bird

Blue-headed Vireos inhabit many different types of forests including deciduous and coniferous. Unlike many other eastern vireo species, Blue-headed Vireos do not shy away from stands of evergreens to breed in. During migration, they make stop overs in insect rich areas such as trees and bushes lining streams and rivers.

Philadelphia Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Philadelphia Vireos have a brownish gray cap, back, and wings. They have a yellow throat and underside. There is more of a contrast between their cap and the rest of the face and underside than other similar looking vireo species such as Warbling and Bell’s. They have white striping around their eye.

Range

Philadelphia Vireos winter in Central America and southern Mexico. In spring, they move north to their breeding areas all across southern Canada and in some of the most northern parts of the midwestern and northeastern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Philadelphia Vireos eat a variety of insects and other small invertebrates. Some common prey items include caterpillars and spiders. They will also eat some fruits.

Where to Find This Bird

Philadelphia Vireos can be found in forested areas, near rivers, and in places with thick underbrush. For people living in the continental United States, the best time to see this species is usually during migration where hey mix in with other small birds.

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo
Identification

Red-eyed Vireos have an olive-colored back, a light underside, a grayish blue cap, and a light-colored eye stripe edged in darker blue to black. They have a namesake red eye that sets them apart from most other vireo species in United States.

Range

Red-eyed Vireos winter in northern South America, then move north into the continental United States and Canada to spend the summer. In the U.S., this species inhabits most of the midwestern and eastern states. They also summer in every state bordering Canada, even Washington.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Red-eyed Vireos have diets that vary depending on the time of year. In summer they feed primarily on insects, while other times of the year they eat more plant matter and fruit.

Where to Find This Bird

Red-eyed Vireos can be found in forested areas consisting of deciduous or mixed deciduous trees. When the trees are leafy, they are easier to hear than they are to see as they spend much of their time up in the canopy.

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo – Photo by Yellowstone National Park
Identification

Warbling Vireos have a brown back, head, and wings. Their underside is a yellowish cream color, and they have a white stripe above and below their eye.

Range

Warbling Vireos spend the winter in Central America and southern Mexico. In spring they move north into most of the continental United States and western Canada where they spend the summer.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Warbling vireos are insectivores and eat a variety of beetles, flies, and caterpillars. They forage high up in trees and pick prey off of leaves and branches.

Where to Find This Bird

Warbling Vireos are most often found in deciduous woods or even just stands of deciduous trees. Since they usually forage high up in trees, the easiest way to locate one is often times to hear them singing. The song of the Warbling Vireo is very bubbly and sounds like one long run-on sentence.

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

White-eyed Vireos have a gray head, an olive green back, two white wing bars on each side, and a light underside with a yellow wash. One of their most distinctive features is their white eye. They also have yellow on their face from the base of their bill over their eye.

Range

White-eyed Vireos winter in some of the northern Central American countries, Eastern Mexico, and the southeastern United States. They move north in the spring and reside in most of the northeastern states south of Wisconsin and Michigan. White-eyed Vireos are very common in the states in the southeastern U.S. and are rare visitors in northern states in the Midwest and Northeast.

Diet and Foraging Habits

White-eyed Vireos eat a wide variety of insects including moths, caterpillars, beetles, and pretty much anything small enough for them to catch and consume. Their diet also consists of some fruits as well.

Where to Find This Bird

White-eyed Vireos reside in places with thicker understories including near streams and rivers, overgrown field edges, and deciduous or mixed woods. Look for this species moving quickly through bushes and shrubs from around 6 to 12 feet off the ground.

Yellow-throated Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo
Identification

Yellow-throated Vireos have a yellow head, face, and of course throat. Their throat is a brighter color of yellow than the rest of their head which is darker, and they have brighter yellow around their eye as well. The back and wings of this species are gray, and they have a white underside. Overall, they are very sporty looking birds.

Range

Yellow-throated Vireos winter in northern South America, Central America, southern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring, they move north into most of the eastern United States and some of the southeastern parts of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Yellow-throated Vireos eat insects, small invertebrates, and occasionally plant matter such as seeds and fruits. They tend to forage higher up in trees than other species.

Where to Find This Bird

Yellow-throated Vireos can be found in deciduous forests where they can be found around gaps and forest edges. Their preferred habitats tend to be larger forests as opposed to small groves of trees. Look for this species in the mid to high canopy foraging and dinging.

Summary

Vireos are small and quick moving birds that can be enjoyable to view and sometimes tricky to identify. We hope that this post has helped to answer some questions about the Vireos of New Jersey.

Geese of Pennsylvania (8 Species to Know)

Geese can be loud, but also beautiful birds that can be found throughout North America. Since there are only a handful of species that call the United States home, geese can be a good group to start with if you’re just beginning to learn bird identification. Both males and females of these species look the same as far as plumage, and they do not have different colorations in different seasons.

Pennsylvania is home to many different goose species with some being common and others being rare. Here is everything you need to know about those species.

Brant (Rare)

Brant
Identification

The Brant is a medium-sized goose that is smaller than a Canada Goose, but larger than a Mallard duck. They have a black head, stubby black bill, black neck and upper chest, with a brown and white body, white rump, and black wingtips. They have a characteristic white mark on their neck that can be variable in size and shape.

Range

Brants normally migrate through parts of the western and northeastern United States and parts of Canada, with some wintering populations on the east coast and in Alaska. They nest in the arctic wetlands of northern North America.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Brants feed mostly on vegetation such as grasses, sedges, and aquatic plants. In the winter, they eat mainly eelgrass and algae, although in some areas they will also eat other grasses if eelgrass is not available.

Where to Find this Bird

The Brant is rare in most midwestern states. Keep an eye out for this bird in flocks of other goose species, normally found near water or in open grassy areas or farm fields.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose
Identification

Adult Canada Geese are large birds with a black head and neck, white cheek, brown back and sides, black feet and legs, with a white stomach and rump. They are larger, have a longer neck, and a longer bill than the closely related Cackling Goose. It’s worth noting that there are many different subspecies of Canada Geese that can vary slightly in size and appearance.

Range

Common year-round throughout much of North America, the Canada Goose migrates south in the winter and north throughout the Northern U.S., Canada and Alaska in the summer. Once seen as a majestic migratory bird, many Canada Geese have spread to urban environments and can be seen hissing at those that get too close to them or their young.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

During spring, Canada Geese feed mostly on grasses, and during the fall and winter, they eat mostly seeds and berries.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Canada Geese near water, in open or grassy fields often in large flocks. They can also be found in and near urban ponds. Look for them flying overhead making the classic goose “honk” and flying in a “V” formation.

Listen to the Canada Goose Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A flock of birds illustrating the “V” formation flight pattern (Mussi Katz photo)

Cackling Goose

Cackling Goose (front) with Canada Goose (behind)
Identification

Adult Cackling Geese look very similar to Canada Geese, but with some key identification differences. They have similar color patterns with a black head and neck, white cheek, brown back and sides, black feet and legs, with a white stomach and rump, however they are smaller (about Mallard duck sized) with a stubbier neck, steep forehead, and smaller, more triangular shaped bill. They will often flock with Canada Geese, along with other geese species. These flocks can be extremely large during migration.

Click here to get more information on how to differentiate Cackling Geese from Canada Geese.

Range

The Cackling Goose spends winter in the central U.S. and Central America, with some populations near the East and West coasts. Their migratory route spans the central U.S. and west coast, and they migrate to northern North America to breed.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Cackling Geese feed mostly on plants and plant material such as grasses, sedges, seeds, and berries.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Cackling Geese near water, in open or grassy fields, and in mixed flocks. Also look for them flying overhead with other goose species, and keep an eye out for noticeable smaller birds, compared to Canada Geese.

Snow Goose

Snow Geese (2 blue morph left and 1 white morph, right) (Bill Grossmeyer photo)
Blue morph Snow Goose (Bill Grossmeyer photo)
Identification

Snow Geese are majestic birds that come in different color morphs. The adult white morph Snow Goose has an all white body, black wingtips, and a pinkish-orange bill with a black “grin patch”. A “grin patch” is a visible space between the upper and lower mandible of the bird seen when the bird’s bill is closed. A “blue morph” Snow Goose is the same size as the white morph with the same bill color, however the body is dark in coloration with variable amounts of white and darker colors along with a white head.

Range

Snow Geese breed in northern North America and migrate through much of North America. They winter in select areas of the United States and Central America, often in large flocks.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Snow Geese are vegetarians that feed on grasses, shrubs, seeds, berries and more. Sometimes they will eat entire plants.

Where to Find this Bird

Snow Geese can be found in large flocks, mixed in with Ross’s Geese, Canada geese, and Cackling Geese. They are often seen in or near water, or in fields. Keep an eye out for mixed flocks flying overhead in a “V” formation.

Ross’s Goose (Uncommon)

Ross’s Goose (Bill Grossmeyer photo)
Identification

Along with Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese also have multiple color morphs. Adult white morph Ross’s Geese have an all white body, black wingtips, and a pinkish-orange bill with a small or absent “grin patch”. A blue morph Ross’s Goose will be the same size as the white morph with the same bill color, however the body will be dark in coloration with variable amounts of white and darker colors along with a white head. A true blue morph Ross’s Goose is very rare, and many are actually hybrid Snow and Ross’s Geese. Keep on the lookout for signs of hybridization such as a bird with a small, triangular bill but a large, dark grin patch. Overall, Ross’s Geese will be smaller than Snow Geese with a smaller, triangular bill that has a gray-blue base, and a stubbier neck.

Range

Ross’s Geese breed in northern North America in colonies and migrate through much of central and western North America. They winter in select areas of the United States and Central America, often in large flocks.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ross’s Geese are vegetarians that feed on grasses, shrubs, seeds, berries and more. Sometimes they will eat entire plants.

Where to Find this Bird

Ross’s Geese can be found in large flocks, mixed in with Snow Geese, Canada, and Cackling Geese. They are often seen in or near water, or in fields. Keep an eye out for mixed flocks flying overhead in a “V” formation.

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose (Bill Grossmeyer photo)
Identification

Adult Greater White-fronted Geese (sometimes called Speckled Geese, or Speckle-belly Geese) are brown in color with a white rump, white stripe on their side, white forehead, black spots on their stomach and a bright pinkish-orange bill and legs. They can look similar to Greylag Geese, which are a domesticated species that can sometimes be seen in urban parks, but Greylag Geese will have a thicker bill, be larger and more stout, and have a striped neck.

Range

Greater White-fronted Geese breed in northern North America in colonies, and on the Alaskan tundra, and migrate through much of central and western North America. They winter in select areas of the western and southern United States and central America, often in large, mixed flocks.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Greater White-fronted Geese feed mostly on plant material such as grasses, berries, sedges, emergent vegetation, and tubers.

Where to Find this Bird

Greater White-fronted Geese can be found in large flocks, mixed in with Ross’s, Snow, Canada, and Cackling Geese. They are often seen in or near water, or in fields. Keep an eye out for mixed flocks flying overhead in a “V” formation.

Barnacle Goose (Rare)

Barnacle Goose (Photo by Caleb Putnam)
Identification

The Barnacle Goose can be identified by its white face, black top of the head and neck, gray stomach, and gray, white, and black back.

Range

Barnacle Geese breed in the arctic North Atlantic islands. They are not native to the United States but sometimes they show up as vagrants, especially in the northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada. Additionally, sometimes domesticated birds escape and are seen, therefore there should be some deliberation in considering whether the bird is wild or not.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Barnacle Geese feed mostly on vegetation such as grasses and aquatic plants.

Find this Bird

Barnacle Geese are extremely rare in North America. Keep an eye out for this bird in flocks of other goose species, normally found near water or in open grassy areas and farm fields.

Pink-footed Goose (Rare)

Pink-footed Goose (Alan Shearman photo, CC by 2.0)
Identification

The Pink-footed Goose can be identified by its brown head and tan neck, gray-brown back, white side stripe, buff and white chest, white rump, pink feet, and stubby bill.

Range

Pink-footed Geese are not native to the United States but they sometimes stray into Eastern North America. When they do, they are an extreme rarity.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Pink-footed Geese feed mostly on vegetation such as grasses and sedges.

Find this Bird

Pink-footed Geese are extremely rare in North America. Keep an eye out for this bird in flocks of other goose species, normally found near water or in open grassy areas and farm fields.

Which of these species have you seen? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Wrens of New Pennsylvania (5 Species to Know)

Wrens are goofy and fast-moving little birds that are absolutely loaded with attitude. Due to their small size and quickness, they can be very difficult to identify. Luckily, many of them have differences in habitat as well as some key features to keep an eye out for that can be used to help differentiate them.

In Pennsylvania there are five wren species and one that visit annually. Here is everything that you need to know about these five species.

Carolina Wren

Carolina wren
Identification

Carolina Wrens are on the larger side among wrens. They have a reddish brown back, head, and wings with a peach colored underside. They have a white throat and a very well defined white eye stripe.

Range

Carolina Wrens are not migratory and live throughout the Eastern United States with the exception of some of the states in the Northeast and the Midwest. They can be found as far west as Texas and as far south as Mexico and even some Central American Countries. The Carolina Wren’s range is actually believed to be expanding as they are showing up farther and farther north each year.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Carolina Wrens eat many different varieties of invertebrates including spiders, moths, and crickets among others. They also eat pulp and seeds from fruit in addition to small vertebrates on occasion.

Where to Find This Bird

Carolina Wrens live in a variety of habitats ranging from woodlands, to scrubland, to backyards. Typically, anywhere that has some sort of cover will serve as a good home for this species. Carolina Wrens are often heard before they are seen, making a call that some say sounds like a tea kettle.

House Wren

House Wren
Identification

House Wrens are a small, grayish brown species that is fairly uniform in color with darker brown barring on the wings and tail. They will vary slightly in color and pattern depending on region.

Range

House Wrens are widespread across North America and South America with South America being a year-round home for this species. In winter, House Wren’s reside in the Southern US and Mexico. They make their way north in spring, eventually ending up covering most of the Continental United States and parts of Southern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

House Wrens are insectivorous, eating mostly insects and other invertebrates that move along the ground such as beetles and spiders. They have also been known to eat flying insects such as dragonflies and moths as well.

Where to Find This Bird

House Wrens can be found in many different habitats. Essentially, as long as there is some vegetation to hide in, House Wrens will probably be around. They are common in back yards where they can be heard making their chattering call.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren – Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie
Identification

Marsh Wrens have a reddish brow back with dark barring on their wings and tail. They have white stripes on their upper back and a buffy to white colored eye stripe. Marsh Wrens have a light underside and often times have buffy sides.

Range

Marsh Wrens winter in Mexico and the Southern United States. In spring, they move north and spend the summer in the Northern United States and parts of Southern Canada. Interestingly, Marsh Wrens are year-round residents in some parts of the US including along the east and west coasts, as well as states such as Colorado and Utah among others.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Marsh Wrens consume Insects and and other invertebrates. They often feed close to the base of vegetation in swampy habitats.

Where to Find This Bird

As their name suggests, Marsh Wrens can be found in marshy habitats with lots of vegetation and standing water. They occupy both freshwater wetlands and coastal salt marshes.

Sedge Wren (Uncommon)

Sedge Wren
Identification

Sedge Wrens are a sandy to brownish color with lighter coloration on their sides. Their back, wings, tail, and head are darker tan to brown with light head striping, and darker barring on the wings and tail. They have a white throat, a white underside, and a tan eyebrow stripe.

Range

Sedge Wrens winter in Northeastern Mexico and the Southeastern United States. In spring, they move north into many of the Midwestern states, Great Lakes area, and South-central Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Sedge Wrens eat insects and other invertebrates that they pick from dense vegetation. They may also eat small amounts of seeds.

Where to Find This Bird

Sedge Wrens reside in thick vegetation such as grasses, and of course sedges. Look for damp fields with tall grass or other plants, and Sedge Wrens will most likely be around.

Winter Wren

Winter Wren – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Winter Wrens are reddish brown with a lighter shade of color on their throat and underside. They have barring and speckling on their sides, tail, back, and wings. This species has a lighter colored eye stripe and has a very short stiff looking tail.

Range

Winter Wrens spend the winter in the Southeastern United States with the exception of Southern Florida. In spring, they move north into many of the Great Lakes states and much of Southeastern Canada. Winter Wrens can also be found in parts of Western Canada in summer. There are also some areas in the Northeastern United States where this species can be found year round.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Winter Wrens eat Insects and other invertebrates. During the winter, they have also been known to eat berries. They typically forage along the ground, searching logs and vegetation for small creatures to eat.

Where to Find This Bird

Winter Wrens can be found in forested habitats as well as shrubby areas with thick underbrush. They seem to enjoy spending time in tangled branches, often making them difficult to get a clear look at. In lowland areas with dense understory, keep an eye out for this small, quick moving species.

Summary

Wrens are fun birds to find due to their energetic personalities and feisty attitudes. Knowing the species that are expected in your state can be instrumental in identifying which one you are looking at in the field. Hopefully, this article has helped in answering some questions about the wrens of Pennsylvania.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Warblers of Missouri (36 Species to Know)

Warblers are vibrant, small, colorful birds that are a major highlight of spring migration. Missouri is home to a wide variety of Warbler species. Some of them breed in Missouri while others just pass through. Here is everything you need to know about the warblers of Missouri.

American Redstart

Male American Redstart – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Female American Redstart – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Male American Redstarts have a black head, wings, back, and tail. They also have black on their chest and an otherwise white underside. While the black color on these birds is certainly spiffy, their most defining feature is their orange color on their sides, wings, and tail. Females look quite different having a gray head, light underside, brownish back, wings, and tail, and the orange of the male is exchanged with yellow in the same places. Females also have a white eye ring.

Range

American Redstarts winter in northern South America, Central America, the Caribbean, southern Mexico, Baja California, and Southern California. In spring, they not only spread out through the eastern United States but also much of the western United States. They breed in most of the eastern United States and much of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

American Redstarts are very active foragers and will catch prey in flight more than most other warbler species. They feed mostly on insects but will also eat fruits such as berries.

Where to Find this Bird

American Redstarts can be found mostly in deciduous forests during their breeding season. They tend to live and forage in the middle to high parts of the canopy. During spring migration it’s more common to see them lower down, especially around streams actively searching for food.

Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Male Bay-breasted Warblers are extremely unique looking warblers with a reddish-brown (bay) colored cap, chin, and sides, a cream colored back of the neck, gray and black striped back, and white wing bars. Males also have a dark black mask over their eyes. Females look nothing like the males, having mostly gray backs and wings with lighter colored undersides. They do still have the white wing bars and show light striping on their back.

Range

Bay-breasted Warblers winter in northern South America, some countries in Central America, and the Caribbean. In spring, they move up into the eastern United States, eventually ending up in Canada and some of the most northern states in the continental U.S. such as Maine and northern Minnesota.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Bay-breasted Warblers primarily feed on insects (particularly the larvae and pupae of spruce budworm) but will also feed on some fruits as well.

Where to Find this Bird

For people in the United States, Bay-breasted Warblers are easiest to see during migration. They tend to forage in the middle parts of trees but during migration will drop down a bit lower than when they’re on their breeding grounds.

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler – Photo by Wayne National Forest
Identification

Black-and-white Warblers are white with complex black striping. They have the most black on their wings and tail along with stripes on their head and underside. Males have a darker black patch on the side of their face than females as well as a black chin which females lack. Both males and females have white eye rings.

Range

Black-and-white Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, Mexico, and some of the southern states in the US. In spring they move north, breeding in many of the eastern states and much of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Black-and-white Warblers feed mostly on insects and other small invertebrates. They forage in a fashion similar to that of nuthatches, clinging to trees and inspecting crevices in branches. Unlike Brown Creepers which at first glance can look similar to Black-and-white Warblers, these birds move any and all directions as they forage whereas Brown Creepers only go up the tree.

Where to Find this Bird

Black-and-white Warblers can be found in mixed forest throughout the year. In some parts of their wintering areas they will be in more tropical forests, but they also winter in areas like South Texas. The best way to spot them is to look for a bird working tree trunks and branches.

Black-throated Blue Warbler (Rare)

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Female Black-throated Blue
Identification

Male Black-throated Blue Warblers are very distinctive with a deep blue back, dark gray to black wings, black on the face, chin, and sides, and a clean white underside. They also have a noticeable patch of white on each wing. Females are drastically different with buff-y coloration on the body and darker gray to brown on the head and wings. They also have a pale eye stripe and a hint of blue on their wings and head.

Range

Black-throated Blue Warblers winter in Central America, parts of eastern Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands. In spring they move north through the eastern United States ending up in their breeding locations in southeastern Canada, New England, parts of the northern Midwest, and the Appalachian Mountains.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Black-throated Blue Warblers feed mostly on insects but will also eat some fruits. Like all warblers they are active foragers.

Where to Find this Bird

During their time in North America, Black-throated Blue Warblers can be found in deciduous or mixed coniferous forests. They are often seen foraging lower in the canopy but not usually on the ground.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler – Alan Schmierer
Identification

Black-throated Green Warblers have a yellowish green back with the same color on the top of the head and the cheeks. The rest of their face is a brighter yellow. These birds have gray wings with white wing bars. Males have a dark black throat with black streaking on their sides. Females have less black on their throat. Both males and females have white undersides and yellow near their undertail.

Range

Black-throated Green Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, parts of Mexico, the Carribean, and the most southern parts of Florida. In spring, they move north into the northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, and the Appalachian Mountain states.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Black-throated Green Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. During nonbreeding season, they will also eat buds and fruits.

Where to Find this Bird

Black-throated Green Warblers reside in a variety of different types of forests where they are usually found higher up in the treetops. Fortunately, these birds have a very distinctive song, sounding like “zee zee zee zu zee.”

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler – Photo by Kevin Bolton
Identification

Blackburnian Warblers are among the most beautiful warblers. Males have a black back and wings with white markings on the wings and just behind the neck. Their underside is white with some black streaks, but its their face that really stands out. In addition to a black pattern that goes over the eye and on the forehead, these birds have a gradient mix of yellow and orange. Female and immature males have a grayer back and show duller colored facial patterns as well as duller yellow on the face and chest.

Range

Blackburnian Warblers winter in northern and northeastern South America. During spring they move into the United States and Canada to breed, ending up in the northeastern states, midwestern states, and states around the Appalachian Mountains.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Blackburnian Warblers eat various insects (particularly spruce budworms) as well as other invertebrates that they actively search for.

Where to Find this Bird

Blackburnian Warblers are generally found high up in the canopy where the males orangey-yellow throat is visible. They breed in coniferous and mixed coniferous forests. Oftentimes, to get a good look at one, the best time is during migration when they will occasionally come down lower in the branches to feed.

Blackpoll Warbler

Male Blackpoll Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Male Blackpoll Warblers have have a black cap, gray, black, and white striped back, and hints of yellow on their wings. They have a white underside with black streaking, and a white cheek. Females look extremely different, sporting a mostly gray body with a darker colored head, back, and wings. They also have a tinge of yellow on their wings and head. Both males and females have distinctive orange legs, unique among warblers.

Range

Blackpoll Warblers winter in northern South America and migrate all the way into Canada and Alaska to breed, making their way through the eastern United States in the spring and fall.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Blackpoll Warblers eat mostly insects and other small invertebrates, but will also eat fruit, particularly during fall. These birds usually feed around five feet or more off the ground.

Where to Find this Bird

Blackpoll Warblers breed extremely far north in Canada and Alaska, so the best time to find them is during migration. Look for them in the middle to high parts of trees in usual places where warblers turn up such as streams, parks, and woodlands.

Blue-winged Warbler

Blue-winged Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Blue-winged Warblers are yellow with a thin, black stripe over their eyes. They have two white wing bars on their wings that are grayer than they are blue. The same color on their wings is also on their tail and their undertail is significantly paler than their underside.

Range

Blue-winged Warblers winter in Central America, the Carribean, and eastern Mexico. in spring they move into the eastern United States, spending the summer in the more northern part of the eastern U.S.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Blue-winged Warblers are very active foragers, moving in a way similar to chickadees. They feed on insects as well as other small invertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Blue-winged Warblers breed along forest edges, in thickets and scrub, along with more open wooded areas. They can be located by listening for their distinctive “bee-buzz” call.

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Canada Warblers have a slate gray head, back, wings, and tail. Their underside is bright yellow, and they have a black “necklace” on their chest. They have black coloring on their face as well and sport a bold, white eye ring. Females look very similar to the males but don’t have nearly much black on their chest.

Range

Canada Warblers winter in northwestern South America and southern Central America. In spring, they move north, breeding in southern Canada, the northeastern United States, and some of the Appalachian Mountain states.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Canada Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates which they actively hunt for. They will take flying insects on the wing.

Where to Find this Bird

Canada Warblers are most easy to find during migration when they show up along with other small migratory birds in typical warbler habitats such as forests and along rivers and streams. In the breeding season, these birds tend to gravitate toward forests with a lot of moss and ground cover such as ferns. They can be seen moving around lower in the trees but not usually on the ground.

Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler – Photo by Susan Young
Identification

Cape May Warblers have a yellowish gray back and wings, white wing bars, and a yellow underside with dark streaking. The most distinctive feature of these birds is their head and face. They have a dark cap, yellow chin and nape of the neck, and reddish cheeks. Females look similar but are duller in coloration.

Range

Cape May Warblers winter in Central America, parts of eastern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring, they move north into the eastern United States. They end up breeding in Canada and some of the most northern states in the Midwest.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Cape May Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates, especially spruce budworm. They will also eat nectar from flowers and hummingbird feeders in addition to berries.

Where to Find this Bird

Cape May Warblers breed in conifer forests, particularly spruce and fir. During migration they show up in a wide variety of locations. Search for them in places other warblers and migratory species frequent.

Cerulean Warbler

Male Cerulean Warbler
Identification

Male Cerulean Warblers are incredibly beautiful with a brilliant blue back and wings, white underside, and blue “necklace.” They have a white chin, blue striping on the flanks, and some black mixed in on their wings and tail. An additional feature to note are their two white wing bars. Females look something like a male that was washed in yellow. They have a greenish blue head, back, and rump. Females have wing bars too, but they are more yellowish than the clean white of the males.

Range

Cerulean Warblers winer in the northern and northeastern parts of South America. In spring, they migrate north to their breeding areas in the eastern United States. They do not breed as far north as many other warbler species, only just barely making it into Canada in the Great Lakes region.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Cerulean Warblers primarily feed on insects which they pick from leaves and branches in the treetops.

Where to Find this Bird

Cerulean Warblers breed in deciduous forests and live high up in the canopy. They can often be heard before they are seen as they make their buzzy calls. Due to their pension for living in the treetops, these birds can be difficult to see especially if the leaves have already grown in.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Chestnut-sided Warblers have a gray and black mottled back, a black marking from their mouth to the back of their head, and a yellow cap. They have a white underside, white cheeks, and a namesake chestnut-colored stripe down their side. Females look similar but their colors aren’t quite as bright.

Range

Chestnut-sided Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, parts of Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring they move north, breeding in the northeastern United States as well as Canada, parts of the northern Midwest, and the Appalachian Mountains.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Chestnut-sided Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. In particular, they eat caterpillars and other larvae which they pick from leaves and branches.

Where to Find this Bird

Chestnut-sided Warblers breed in areas altered in some way (usually deciduous forest). Typically, these areas have been previously burned or logged and are in the process of regrowing. During migration, they can be found in a wide variety of habitats.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Common Yellowthroats have an olive-colored back, wings, and tail, and a yellow underside. They have a black mask with white above the black. Females lack the black mask and are grayer overall but still have a bright yellow throat.

Range

Common yellowthroats winter in Central America, Mexico, the Carribean, and parts of the southern United States. In spring, they move north into almost every part of the continental United States with the exception of some of the southwestern states. They also breed in southern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Common Yellowthroats feed on a variety of different insects as well as other small invertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Common Yellowthroats can be found in open areas such as brushy fields, marshes, oak savannas, and edge habitat. Since they stay hidden much of the time, listening for their rapid songs can be the best way to locate them. They sound like “wichity-wichity-wichity-wichity.”

Connecticut Warbler (Rare)

Connecticut Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Connecticut Warblers have a brown back, gray head, and yellow underside. They have black where their gray hood meets their chest but the amount of black varies depending on the individual. Females look similar but are slightly paler.

Range

Connecticut Warblers winter in northern South America and have a very limited range as they migrate north in spring, not encompassing nearly as much of the eastern U.S. as most other warbler species. They breed in the conifer forests of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Connecticut Warblers primarily feed on insects but will also eat fruits from time to time. These birds have a unique foraging habit as they walk along the ground looking for food as opposed to hopping. They may also forage higher in trees as well if that’s where the insects are.

Where to Find this Bird

Connecticut Warblers are notoriously difficult to get a look at due to their sulky nature. People living in the northern Midwest can take a trip to the boreal forests where they nest and listen for their songs. Otherwise, the best time to see them is during migration when they move through and get reported for a week or two. Look for a bird staying low to the ground, and you may get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these skulky birds.

Golden-winged Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Golden-winged Warblers have a gray back, a yellow cap, and a light underside. They also have a yellow wingbar on each wing, a black throat, and a black marking on their otherwise white colored face. Females look extremely similar but display a bit more yellow on their back.

Range

Golden-winged Warblers winter in the northwestern part of South America, Central America, and the southern part of Mexico. In spring they move north and breed in the northeastern part of the continental United States, the Midwest, and some parts of southeastern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Golden-winged Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates that they search for amongst leaves and branches.

Where to Find this Bird

For many people in the United States, the best time to find Golden-winged Warblers is during migration. For people living in their breeding range, looking for semi open damp shrubby habitats and thickets can be a good way to find them. Listen for their songs that sound like “Bee buzz buzz buzz,” very similar to a Blue-winged Warbler but with extra buzzes at the end.

Hooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Identification

Hooded Warblers have an olive-colored back, grayish wings, and a gray tail with lighter colored feathers on the outside of the tail. Their underside is bright yellow as well as their face, and they have a namesake black hood around their head to their chin. Females do not have a full hood but still show partial black coloration on the top of their head. These warblers have lighter colored feathers on the outsides of their tails that are visible in flight.

Range

Hooded Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, eastern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring they move north and breed in the southeastern United States. In terms of eastern warblers, Hooded Warblers do not move as far north to breed as many others do.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Hooded Warblers feed on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates either picking them from leaves or picking them from the ground.

Where to Find this Bird

Hooded Warblers breed in deciduous forests or mixed conifer forests. Look for them in the middle to lower parts of the dense forest. keep in mind however that they do spend some time high in the canopy as well.

Kentucky Warbler

Kentucky Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Kentucky Warblers have a yellow-olive colored back and tail. Their underside is bright yellow, and they have distinctive black “teardrop” markings under their eyes. Males have a dark black cap while females have a dark gray cap.

Range

Kentucky Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, eastern Mexico and the Caribbean. In spring they move north into the eastern United States, but their breeding range does not include some of the more northern states in the region such as Michigan and Maine.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Kentucky Warblers eat insects and other small invertebrates such as spiders. They feed low to the ground and often times even on the ground, searching the substrate for prey. They will also eat some fruits.

Where to Find this Bird

Kentucky Warblers can be found in dense forests with thick bushes and understory. Due to their habitat, they can often be heard easier than they are seen. Their song actually sounds quite similar to that of the Carolina Wren.

Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Louisiana Waterthrushes have a brown back, head, and wings along with a light cream-colored underside. They have dark streaking on their underside and a cream-colored eyebrow stripe. Another feature to note are their bubblegum pink legs.

Range

Louisiana Waterthrushes winter in northern South America, Central America, the Carribean, and parts of Mexico. In spring they move north, inhabiting much of the eastern United States during the breeding season.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

As their name would suggest, Louisiana Waterthrushes spend a lot of time foraging along the water. They feed on terrestrial and aquatic insects and invertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Louisiana Waterthrushes can be found along the edges of clear streams, especially in mature forests. Keep an eye out for a bird along the water’s edge bobbing its tail. They usually prefer quicker moving water than Northern Waterthrushes do.

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Magnolia Warblers have a black back, black mask on their face, and a bright yellow underside with black streaking. They have white markings on their wings, a white lower eye crescent, a white eye-brow stripe, and a gray head. Female and immature birds have less black and show a white eye ring.

Range

Magnolia Warblers winter in Central America, southern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring they move north into the eastern United States and breed in southern Canada, the most northern states in the Midwest, and the Northeast.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Magnolia Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. In their breeding range, spruce budworm is a major food source.

Where to Find this Bird

During migration Magnolia Warblers can be found in forests, near streams, and in other areas frequented by migratory bird species. During the breeding season, these birds can be found in conifer and mixed conifer forests.

Mourning Warbler

Mourning Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Mourning Warblers have a bluish-gray head, olive-colored backs and wings, and yellow undersides. They have darker coloration by the base of their bill and eye. Males do not have an eye ring or eye crescents which helps to separate them from other species such as Nashville Warblers and Connecticut Warblers. Males also have a black bib on their chest. Female and immature birds lack the black bib and can show an eye ring which can be confusing when trying to make a correct identification.

Range

Mourning Warblers winter in northwestern South America and Central America. In spring, they move north into the northeastern United States and Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mourning Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. They forage lower in shrubs and bushes than many other warbler species and can also be seen along the ground searching for food as well.

Where to Find this Bird

Mourning Warblers can be found in forests that have a lot of understory growth. A lot of places they inhabit include areas that have been burned, logged, or otherwise disturbed by humans.

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warber – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Nashville Warblers have a gray head, greenish-brown colored back, and yellow underside. Their chin is also yellow, and some other features of note are their bold white eye rings, and orangey color barely visible on the top of the males head. Females look very similar to the males but with colors that are slightly more muted. From beneath, these birds can be identified by their yellow chest, lighter almost white color near their legs, and their yellow undertail.

Range

Nashville Warblers winter in southern Mexico, western California, and some countries in Central America. In spring they spread far and wide across the United States ending up in their breeding areas in the northwestern, northeastern, and midwestern part of the state. They also breed in the southern parts of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Nashville Warblers primarily feed on insects which they usually find high in the treetops. Some have also been known to eat suet.

Where to Find this Bird

Nashville Warblers are said to forage in the middle parts of trees, but in my experience, they are one of the birds that usually spends most of their time fairly high up in the canopy.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Northern Parulas have a blueish gray head, wings, and rump. They have a yellow back, white wing bars, and white eye crescents. They have a yellow throat and chest with males having dark red on their chest as well. The rest of their underside is white. Females look similar but are not quite as colorful and do not have red on their chest.

Range

Northern Parulas winter in parts of eastern Central America, southeastern Mexico, the Carribean, and parts of the southern United States such as Florida and South Texas. In spring, they move north into most of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Most of the Northern Parulas diet consists of insects and spiders but they also eat fruits, and nectar.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Parulas tend to spend most of their time in the canopy in forested areas. Sometimes the best way to find them is to listen for their “zipper” songs.

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Northern Waterthrushes have a brown back, wings, head, and tail. They have a yellowish cream-colored underside with brown streaking and a yellowish cream-colored eyebrow stripe. Northern Waterthrushes generally have more underside streaking and are more yellowish in color than Louisiana Waterthrushes, but the two species can pose identification issues.

Range

Northern Waterthrushes winter in northern South America, Central America, much of Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring they move north inhabiting an impressive number of areas including the northeastern and midwestern United States, Canada, Alaska, and even parts of the northwestern U.S.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Waterthrushes eat a variety of insects and invertebrates both aquatic and terrestrial. They wade into the water and will eat larval insects such as caddisflies. They have also been known to eat small vertebrates such as fish.

Where to Find this Bird

During migration, Northern Waterthrushes can be found along a variety of different water sources including rivers, streams, and wetlands. During their breeding season, they spend most of their time in places with standing water such as damp forests. Look for a bird near the water’s edge or in thick underbrush bobbing its tail.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Orange-crowned Warblers can vary in coloration depending on region and maturity. Most of the time, they are a dull yellowish color with yellow undertail coverts and a rarely noticeable orange spot on the top of their head. However, in some regions and in immature birds, they can be grayer overall and look fairly similar to Tennessee Warblers. Orange-crowned Warblers have an eye ring that can be paler or more yellow which also depends on region and maturity.

Range

Orange-crowned Warblers winter in northern Central America, Mexico, and the southern United States, making them one of the more northern wintering warbler species. They also winter along the pacific coast of the continental United States. In spring, they move north, breeding in Canada, Alaska, and the western U.S.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Orange-crowned Warblers have one of the most varied diets of any warbler species. They eat insects and other small invertebrates, sap, berries, seeds, suet, and even nectar from flowers. They forage in all levels of vegetation from near the forest floor to the canopy.

Where to Find this Bird

Orange-crowned Warblers will be in slightly different habitats depending on the time of the year and region. In the east, they are most easily found during migration in usual migrant stopovers. In winter, look for them in areas with thick vegetation such as woods and scrubby thickets.

Ovenbird

Ovenbird – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Ovenbirds have a reddish-brown back, wings, tail, and head, a white underside with black streaking, and a bold white eye ring. They have two black stripes on their crown with a thicker orange stripe in between.

Range

Ovenbirds winter in northern South America, Central America, Mexico, the Carribean, and Florida. In spring, the move north, breeding in the northeastern, and midwestern United States, as well as parts of eastern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ovenbirds feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates. They are known for being adaptable with their food sources and will alter their feeding style and food sources to match with what is most abundant at the time. They will even sometimes eat seeds. Most of the time they tend to forage along the ground but will also feed in bushes and trees.

Where to Find this Bird

In their breeding areas, Ovenbirds are very vocal and can be tracked down by their loud songs. Look for a bird moving along the ground when in large forests but do note that they may also be up higher in the canopy as well.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Palm Warblers have a rufous colored cap, a yellow eyebrow stripe, brown wings, and a brown tail. Their throat is yellow, and their underside is varying degrees of yellow depending on the subspecies. Some other notable features are their yellow rump and yellow undertail. It’s not just the look of this species that can help identify it but also the behavior. Palm Warblers are known for bobbing their tail similar to waterthrushes, this can be a useful diagnostic clue in the field.

Range

Palm Warblers winter in Central America, western Mexico, the Caribbean, the southeastern United States, and oddly enough, western California. In spring they move north into the eastern United States and Canada. Some of the states in the continental U.S. that these birds breed in include Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Palm Warblers feed primarily on insects, but will also eat seeds and some fruits including berries.

Where to Find this Bird

Palm Warblers are different than many other warblers as they are not relegated to trees and thick vegetation. They will often forage along the ground and oftentimes associate more with sparrows than with other warblers.

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Pine Warblers have an olive-yellow colored head and back along with a bright yellow throat. They have gray wings with white wing bars, and a white back part of their underside. Another feature to note is their yellow eye ring. Females look very similar but are slightly paler.

Range

Pine Warblers winter in the southeastern United States and some of the islands in the Carribean. In spring, some stay in these areas to breed, but others move north, inhabiting most of the eastern United States and just barely reaching into southeastern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Pine Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates. They will also eat berries and seeds, making them one of the handful of warblers that will actually over winter in colder climates and visit bird feeders.

Where to Find this Bird

During migration, Pine Warblers can be seen along with other warblers in a variety of different habitats. When in their breeding areas, they live in pine and mixed pine forests where they can be heard making a trilling call that sounds very similar to a Chipping Sparrow.

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Identification

Prairie Warblers have an olive-yellow colored head, dark gray wings, and a chestnut-colored patch on their back. Their throat and underside are bright yellow with black streaking. On their face they have a black and yellow pattern distinctive to the species. Female and immature birds look similar but with a grayer head and face along with more muted colors.

Range

Prairie Warblers winter in parts of Central America, the Carribean, and Florida. In spring they move north into much of the eastern United States but don’t end up nearly as far north as other eastern warbler species with only small pockets of their range being in the Midwest and Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Prairie Warblers feed on insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. They will also consume some fruits and other plants.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Prairie Warblers in shrubby areas without dense canopy. These may include burned forests, recently logged forests or simply more scrubby areas with few large trees. Listen for their song that sounds like an ascending buzz.

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler
Identification

Prothonotary Warblers have an olive-colored back, gray wings, and a bright glowing yellow head and body.

Range

Prothonotary Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, eastern Mexico, parts of the Carribean, and some states in the southeastern U.S. In spring they move into the eastern United States where they do not make it as far north as many other eastern warblers.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Prothonotary Warblers have diets that vary depending on the time of the year. During breeding season, they eat insects, and other invertebrates. During the nonbreeding season fruits and seeds make up a larger portion of their diet.

Where to Find this Bird

Prothonotary Warblers are sometimes known as “Swamp Warblers” because of the habitats they typically reside in. Look for these birds in swamps, flooded forests, and sometimes even marshes.

Swainson’s Warbler (Rare)

Swainson’s Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Swainson’s Warblers have a brown back, wings, tail, and cap on their head. Their underside is lighter in color raining from light gray to cream in color. These birds also have a light colored stripe just above their eye.

Range

Swainson’s Warblers winter in the Caribbean as well as some of the northern countries in Central America. In spring they move north breeding throughout the southeastern United States.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Swainson’s Warblers feed on insects and other small invertebrates (typically those that live along the ground and in the leaf litter.) They will sometimes hawk flying insects from out of the air as well.

Where to Find this Bird

Swainson’s Warblers can be found in forests with thick understory and a lot of leaf litter. They prefer damp forests that are not flooded but still wet. Since they often reside in dense vegetation, hearing them can oftentimes be the best way to locate them.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler – Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie
Identification

Male Yellow Warblers are bright yellow with grayish-yellow wings and reddish-brown streaking on their chest and underside. Females look similar but aren’t quite as brightly colored and lack the streaking on their underside.

Range

Yellow Warblers winter in northern South America, Central America, parts of Mexico, the Carribean, and even a few states in the southern United States. In spring, they move north and inhabit just about every part of North America including almost all of Canada and even Alaska.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Yellow Warblers are insectivores and actively hunt for prey, searching through leaves and branches to find a meal.

Where to Find this Bird

Yellow Warblers can be found in open areas. Some habitats to look for them in are marshes, shrubby fields, forest edges, and oak savannas.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler
Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Also called “butterbutts,” the Yellow-rumped Warbler is known for a patch of yellow that can be seen right above its tail. They also have yellow patches right below their wings on their sides. Males will have a black mask, white throat and overall gray and black coloration. Females look similar to males with more brown on the top of their head and back.

In the western part of North America, Yellow-rumped Warblers are slightly different looking and have a yellow throat. This subspecies is known as the “Audubon’s” subspecies. The eastern subspecies is known as the “Myrtle” subspecies.

Range

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is one of the most common warblers in North America. Their wintering range covers many of the southern and western states and their migratory path goes through the central and eastern U.S. In Summer, they spend most of their time in Canada, some of the northern U.S. and parts of the west.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

The Yellow-rumped Warblers diet consists mostly of insects during the summer, including caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers, and spiders. During winter, their diet consists mostly of fruits. They have also been known to eat seeds. When foraging, they can be seen in any part of a tree, on the ground, or picking off bugs and returning to the same branch, much like a flycatcher. In winter, they form large flocks of almost exclusively other Yellow-rumped Warblers, but during the spring and winter, they can be found in mixed foraging groups.

Where to Find this Bird

In most states in the U.S., Yellow-rumped Warblers are common in the spring and fall while migrating through and are often seen near water.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Yellow-throated Warblers have a grayish-blue back, head, and tail. They have dark wings with two wing bars. They have white markings above their eye and black by their eye going down the sides of their bright yellow namesake throat. These birds have a white underside with some black streaking and a white eye crescent on the lower part of their eye.

Range

Yellow-throated Warblers winter in Central America, parts of Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of the southern United States. In spring they head north, breeding in the southeastern United States and as far north as Ohio and southern Wisconsin.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Yellow-throated Warblers are insectivorous and will scour branches and conifer cones. They will also stake out flowers to pick off the insects that are attracted.

Where to Find this Bird

Yellow-throated Warblers operate in a similar way to Black-and-white Warblers climbing around tree branches. they tend to stick to the high canopy of trees however so seeing them can be a challenging task. In my personal experience, during migration this species can be seen lower to the ground while they forage.

Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Tennessee Warblers have a grayish-blue head, a greenish-yellow back and wings, and a light-colored underside. Females have a more yellow colored head, and both males and females have a light-colored stripe above their eye and white undertail coverts (an important feature to differentiate them from Orange-crowned Warblers).

Range

Tennessee Warblers winter in northeastern South America, Central America, southern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring, they move north into some of the most northern states in the continental U.S. and much of Canada.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tennessee Warblers feed on insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. During summer, caterpillars make up a massive part of their diet as well as spruce budworms. During the nonbreeding season they also feed on fruit and nectar from flowers.

Where to Find this Bird

Since Tennessee Warblers breed relatively far north in the continent, the best time for many people to see them is during migration. Whether during migration or on their breeding grounds, look for these birds foraging high up in the canopy flitting around the ends of branches.

Wilson’s Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Wilson’s Warblers have an olive-colored back, grayish wings, and a yellow body. Males have a black cap on the top of their head which female and immature birds lack.

Range

Wilson’s Warblers winter in Central America, parts of Mexico, Baja California, and some states in the southern U.S. In spring, they move north, breeding in Canada, Alaska, the northwestern United States, and the most northeastern parts of New England.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Wilson’s Warblers feed primarily on insects and other small invertebrates. They will also lap up honeydew which is a sugary substance secreted by some types of insects.

Where to Find this Bird

Wilson’s Warblers tend to reside in areas with thick understory. They will occupy forest edges as well, particularly near streams or other water sources.

Worm-eating Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler – Photo by Susan Young
Identification

Worm-eating Warblers have an olive-brown back, tan underside, and stripes on their head. They have a very long distinctive looking bill. In all, there aren’t any other warbler species in eastern North America that at all resemble this species.

Range

Worm-eating Warblers winter in Central America, southeastern Mexico, and the Carribean. In spring, they move north into the southeastern United States. Out of all eastern warbler species, Worm-eating Warblers are among some of the most southern nesting, not typically making it very high into the Midwest or the Northeast.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Worm-eating Warblers do not actually readily consume worms, but do eat caterpillars, insects, spiders, and slugs. The name may come from their preference for caterpillars that are sometimes colloquially called “worms.”

Where to Find this Bird

Worm-eating Warblers reside in thick, dense forests and stay low near the forest floor which make them challenging to see. Listen for their trill-y calls that sound very similar to Pine Warblers and Chipping Sparrows.

Summary

Warblers are always a major highlight during migration and serve as something to look forward to every year. We hope this post has helped answer some questions about these beautiful and energetic birds.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Geese of the New Jersey (8 Species to Know)

Geese can be loud, but also beautiful birds that can be found throughout North America. Since there are only a handful of species that call the United States home, geese can be a good group to start with if you’re just beginning to learn bird identification. Both males and females of these species look the same as far as plumage, and they do not have different colorations in different seasons.

New Jersey has 8 different goose species that can be found in the state. Here is everything you need to know about these species.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose
Identification

Adult Canada Geese are large birds with a black head and neck, white cheek, brown back and sides, black feet and legs, with a white stomach and rump. They are larger, have a longer neck, and a longer bill than the closely related Cackling Goose. It’s worth noting that there are many different subspecies of Canada Geese that can vary slightly in size and appearance.

Range

Common year-round throughout much of North America, the Canada Goose migrates south in the winter and north throughout the Northern U.S., Canada and Alaska in the summer. Once seen as a majestic migratory bird, many Canada Geese have spread to urban environments and can be seen hissing at those that get too close to them or their young.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

During spring, Canada Geese feed mostly on grasses, and during the fall and winter, they eat mostly seeds and berries.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Canada Geese near water, in open or grassy fields often in large flocks. They can also be found in and near urban ponds. Look for them flying overhead making the classic goose “honk” and flying in a “V” formation.

Listen to the Canada Goose Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A flock of birds illustrating the “V” formation flight pattern (Mussi Katz photo)

Cackling Goose

Cackling Goose (front) with Canada Goose (behind)
Identification

Adult Cackling Geese look very similar to Canada Geese, but with some key identification differences. They have similar color patterns with a black head and neck, white cheek, brown back and sides, black feet and legs, with a white stomach and rump, however they are smaller (about Mallard duck sized) with a stubbier neck, steep forehead, and smaller, more triangular shaped bill. They will often flock with Canada Geese, along with other geese species. These flocks can be extremely large during migration.

Click here to get more information on how to differentiate Cackling Geese from Canada Geese.

Range

The Cackling Goose spends winter in the central U.S. and Central America, with some populations near the East and West coasts. Their migratory route spans the central U.S. and west coast, and they migrate to northern North America to breed.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Cackling Geese feed mostly on plants and plant material such as grasses, sedges, seeds, and berries.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Cackling Geese near water, in open or grassy fields, and in mixed flocks. Also look for them flying overhead with other goose species, and keep an eye out for noticeable smaller birds, compared to Canada Geese.

Snow Goose

Snow Geese (2 blue morph left and 1 white morph, right) (Bill Grossmeyer photo)
Blue morph Snow Goose (Bill Grossmeyer photo)
Identification

Snow Geese are majestic birds that come in different color morphs. The adult white morph Snow Goose has an all white body, black wingtips, and a pinkish-orange bill with a black “grin patch”. A “grin patch” is a visible space between the upper and lower mandible of the bird seen when the bird’s bill is closed. A “blue morph” Snow Goose is the same size as the white morph with the same bill color, however the body is dark in coloration with variable amounts of white and darker colors along with a white head.

Range

Snow Geese breed in northern North America and migrate through much of North America. They winter in select areas of the United States and Central America, often in large flocks.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Snow Geese are vegetarians that feed on grasses, shrubs, seeds, berries and more. Sometimes they will eat entire plants.

Where to Find this Bird

Snow Geese can be found in large flocks, mixed in with Ross’s Geese, Canada geese, and Cackling Geese. They are often seen in or near water, or in fields. Keep an eye out for mixed flocks flying overhead in a “V” formation.

Ross’s Goose

Ross’s Goose (Bill Grossmeyer photo)
Identification

Along with Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese also have multiple color morphs. Adult white morph Ross’s Geese have an all white body, black wingtips, and a pinkish-orange bill with a small or absent “grin patch”. A blue morph Ross’s Goose will be the same size as the white morph with the same bill color, however the body will be dark in coloration with variable amounts of white and darker colors along with a white head. A true blue morph Ross’s Goose is very rare, and many are actually hybrid Snow and Ross’s Geese. Keep on the lookout for signs of hybridization such as a bird with a small, triangular bill but a large, dark grin patch. Overall, Ross’s Geese will be smaller than Snow Geese with a smaller, triangular bill that has a gray-blue base, and a stubbier neck.

Range

Ross’s Geese breed in northern North America in colonies and migrate through much of central and western North America. They winter in select areas of the United States and Central America, often in large flocks.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ross’s Geese are vegetarians that feed on grasses, shrubs, seeds, berries and more. Sometimes they will eat entire plants.

Where to Find this Bird

Ross’s Geese can be found in large flocks, mixed in with Snow Geese, Canada, and Cackling Geese. They are often seen in or near water, or in fields. Keep an eye out for mixed flocks flying overhead in a “V” formation.

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose (Bill Grossmeyer photo)
Identification

Adult Greater White-fronted Geese (sometimes called Speckled Geese, or Speckle-belly Geese) are brown in color with a white rump, white stripe on their side, white forehead, black spots on their stomach and a bright pinkish-orange bill and legs. They can look similar to Greylag Geese, which are a domesticated species that can sometimes be seen in urban parks, but Greylag Geese will have a thicker bill, be larger and more stout, and have a striped neck.

Range

Greater White-fronted Geese breed in northern North America in colonies, and on the Alaskan tundra, and migrate through much of central and western North America. They winter in select areas of the western and southern United States and central America, often in large, mixed flocks.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Greater White-fronted Geese feed mostly on plant material such as grasses, berries, sedges, emergent vegetation, and tubers.

Where to Find this Bird

Greater White-fronted Geese can be found in large flocks, mixed in with Ross’s, Snow, Canada, and Cackling Geese. They are often seen in or near water, or in fields. Keep an eye out for mixed flocks flying overhead in a “V” formation.

Brant

Brant
Identification

The Brant is a medium-sized goose that is smaller than a Canada Goose, but larger than a Mallard duck. They have a black head, stubby black bill, black neck and upper chest, with a brown and white body, white rump, and black wingtips. They have a characteristic white mark on their neck that can be variable in size and shape.

Range

Brants normally migrate through parts of the western and northeastern United States and parts of Canada, with some wintering populations on the east coast and in Alaska. They nest in the arctic wetlands of northern North America.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Brants feed mostly on vegetation such as grasses, sedges, and aquatic plants. In the winter, they eat mainly eelgrass and algae, although in some areas they will also eat other grasses if eelgrass is not available.

Where to Find this Bird

The Brant is rare in most midwestern states. Keep an eye out for this bird in flocks of other goose species, normally found near water or in open grassy areas or farm fields.

Barnacle Goose (Rare)

Barnacle Goose (Photo by Caleb Putnam)
Identification

The Barnacle Goose can be identified by its white face, black top of the head and neck, gray stomach, and gray, white, and black back.

Range

Barnacle Geese breed in the arctic North Atlantic islands. They are not native to the United States but sometimes they show up as vagrants, especially in the northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada. Additionally, sometimes domesticated birds escape and are seen, therefore there should be some deliberation in considering whether the bird is wild or not.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Barnacle Geese feed mostly on vegetation such as grasses and aquatic plants.

Find this Bird

Barnacle Geese are extremely rare in North America. Keep an eye out for this bird in flocks of other goose species, normally found near water or in open grassy areas and farm fields.

Pink-footed Goose (Rare)

Pink-footed Goose (Alan Shearman photo, CC by 2.0)
Identification

The Pink-footed Goose can be identified by its brown head and tan neck, gray-brown back, white side stripe, buff and white chest, white rump, pink feet, and stubby bill.

Range

Pink-footed Geese are not native to the United States but they sometimes stray into Eastern North America. When they do, they are an extreme rarity.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Pink-footed Geese feed mostly on vegetation such as grasses and sedges.

Find this Bird

Pink-footed Geese are extremely rare in North America. Keep an eye out for this bird in flocks of other goose species, normally found near water or in open grassy areas and farm fields.

Which of these species have you seen? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Hummingbirds of Connecticut (2 Species to Know)

Hummingbirds are captivating creatures that buzz around backyards and flowers at a frenetic pace. While they are quite small, they sometimes travel extreme distances during migration, leading to many species showing up in places outside of their normal range.

While Connecticut has records of many different rare hummingbirds showing up in the state over the years, there are really only two species that can be found in the state on a regular basis. Here is everything you need to know about those two species.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Male – Photo by USFWS Midwest Region
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Female – Photo by Susan Young
Identification

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds look different depending on the lighting. Sometimes they can appear dark olive color, but when the sun hits them, they shine with a bright emerald green on the back, wings, head, and tail. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a white throat and underside while males have a bright shining red throat. Again, if the lighting is dark, the throat will be dark red to black looking in color.

Range

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird spends the winter in Central America and Southern Mexico. In spring, they head north and breed throughout the Eastern United States as well as some parts of Southern Canada. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only naturally occurring hummingbird species that breeds in the Eastern US.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds consume nectar from flowers, particularly from red or orange flowers. They will also eat small insects that they find near flowers or even catch them out of mid air.

Where to Find This Bird

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be found in forested areas, around fields, and in backyards. They frequent ornamental flowers as well as hummingbird feeders and are common in their normal range. To find them, either stake out flower beds, or keep your eyes peeled for something that looks like a very large insect buzzing through the air.

Rufous Hummingbird (Rare)

Rufous Hummingbird Adult Male – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Rufous Hummingbird – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Adult male Rufous Hummingbirds have a golden orange color on their head, back, and tail with darker colored wings. They have dark tips of the tail feathers with the exception of the outer tail feathers that are white-tipped. Adult males have a reddish pink iridescent throat and a white bib. Females and immature males are much more pale overall with a light underside and a green back, head, and tail. They still have hints of the rusty orange coloration that adult males possess but it looks like more of a light wash.

Range

Rufous Hummingbirds live in the Western half of North America. They winter in Southwestern Mexico and have a fairly lengthy migration to the Pacific Northwest and Southwestern Canada where they spend the breeding months.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Rufous Hummingbirds feed from flowers where they use their long bills to get nectar. They also eat small insects such as flies and aphids. They will catch them on the wing or pick them off of flowers and vegetation.

Where to Find This Bird

Rufous Hummingbirds live in a wide variety of habitats including forests, meadows, and backyards. This species is known to visit hummingbird feeders and can sometimes be a bully to other hummingbirds trying to get nectar.

In Iowa, Rufous Hummingbirds are rare visitors but do make an appearance. They are typically found during fall migration as well as winter and usually by a homeowner who notices them at their hummingbird feeder. Look for a large hummingbird from August to November and leave feeders up well into late fall if you’d like to attract one.

Summary

Hummingbirds are beloved by many birders and backyard bird watchers alike. Knowing the habits, range, and key identification features of each of these species can be incredibly useful in knowing what to look for in the field. Keep in mind, Connecticut has had an assortment of rare hummingbirds that show up very occasionally, so it’s possible that a bird you are trying to identify could be a vagrant species, so do not rule any of them out if your bird doesn’t fit with either of the two expected species.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Cormorants of Maine (2 Species to Know)

Cormorants are slender diving waterbirds with a distinctive shape and set of habits. While there are many cormorant species that live in North America, there are only two that can typically be found in Maine, Here is everything you need to know about these two species.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant
Identification

Adult Double-crested Cormorants have a dark brown to black head, neck, back, underside and wings. Juveniles will be lighter brown in color with a lighter throat and underside. Both adults and juveniles have orange by the eyes and base of the bill as well as a turquoise colored eye. Breeding adult birds have two tufts on their head that can sometimes be hard to see, but these crests are what this species is named for.

Range

Double-crested Cormorants live year round along the Pacific Coast of North America from Northwestern Mexico all the way up to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. They also live year round in parts of Florida. This species winters in in the Southeastern United States and Northeastern Mexico. In spring, they move into the Northern United States and Southern Canada where they can be seen migrating in large flocks.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Double-crested Cormorants primarily eat fish which they catch by hunting them underwater. They will also eat other aquatic creature such as crustaceans and amphibians.

Where to Find This Bird

Double-crested Cormorants can be found in a variety of places with all of them usually being near bodies of water. Look for this species in trees lining lakes and ponds as well as in marshes. Often times, Double-crested Cormorants will congregate in large groups on islands or other places with adequate perches as they dry their wings and survey for prey.

Great Cormorant

Great Cormorant – Caroline Jones Photo
Identification

Great Cormorants are larger than other Eastern Cormorant species. They look different depending on the region with some subspecies having more white on their head and neck. The birds in Eastern North America are glossy dark brown to black with white on their flanks and throat. They also have an orangey colored gular patch. Birds in nonbreeding plumage are a chocolatey brown color.

Range

Great Cormorants are extremely wide spread with the species being found in North America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. In North America they reside on the East Coast from Southeastern Canada all the way south to Florida and even the Gulf Coast.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Great Cormorants are specialists at hunting for and eating fish. They are known to specialize in bottom dwelling fish that they pull from crevices in rocks. They typically forage in shallower water under 50 feet in depth.

Where to Find This Bird

In the United States, look for Great Cormorants on rocky coasts in the states along the Atlantic Ocean. In particular, the more Northern States in New England are some of the places this species is most common.

Summary

Cormorants are unique, lanky birds that are a common sight near the water. Knowing the habits, range, and key identification features of each of these species can be incredibly useful in knowing what to look for in the field.

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