Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Southern Warbler in a park

  In the winter Pine Warblers are one of the drabbest looking warblers around. In Newfoundland Pine Warblers are usually seen in the fall, not in January. Pine Warblers are a southern warbler. They eat insects such as larvae and caterpillars. This year a Pine Warbler showed up in Bowering Park, St John's. I went to see this Pine Warbler today. The weather was horrible. It was rainy and then the rain turned into a slushy snow fall. The winds were also horrible, but the Pine Warbler was seen. Considering the Pine Warbler should be in the southern US right now and the temperature here is dropping into the -20s C with the wind chill, the Pine Warbler is probably facing its last few days alive. The Warbler is now living on seeds. That is not a sufficient feed to keep it alive. It really needs lard 24/7 if it is to survive. Bird watchers have put out a suet cake for it. If seen please report to nf.birds!

This weather is bad news for the Pine Warbler
The Pine Warblers range.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gull Identifacation

Gull identification is one of the hardest aspects of bird watching. There are different winter plumages, hybrids and different plumages for the age of the gull. You could send off the American Bird Alert by thinking a Lesser black backed gull-Herring gull hybrid is a Yellow-legged gull or a Lesser black backed gull is a Slaty black backed gull. Telling by size can be useful but only if the birds are in close range and are standing right next to each other. If you have found an odd looking gull take out your field guide and look at three identification points of the bird - back colour, head pattern and wing pattern.
Back colour:
The back colour is a easy way to distinguished species like Great black backs from Glaucous gulls. It also helps when your looking at a large flock of gulls. Even the smallest change of the shade of grey can mean a different species of gull.
Head pattern:
During the breeding season most species of gull have a white head with the exception of black headed species such as Bonapartes and Laughing. In the winter most of these white heads turn streaky except for some species such as Great black backs and Western gulls. The black headed species get a black blotch on their heads.
Wing pattern:
Most gull species have black wingtips but some species like Iceland gulls and Glaucous gulls have pale wingtips.
Happy New Year!