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A slice of September migrants

Migration is going by quickly.  A few laggards not withstanding, many birds such as kingbirds, wood-pewees and orioles are gone for the year, not to be seen again until next spring.  Every week, and often on the heels of each cold front, we have the opportunity to enjoy a different assemblage of migrant birds.  Some migrants only appear in our area for brief periods each spring and fall as they travel between wintering and breeding areas and then back.  What is nice about these migrants is you typically do not have to go far to find them.  A few  can often be seen along country roads, hike/bike trails and backyards.   This includes small nondescript songbirds that all appear superficially similar to one another, particularly in fall.   Since these birds, sometime referred to as little brown birds, move quickly through trees and thickets, it can be challenging to get a descent look and observe the subtle, albeit distinctive, features that makes each one unique.  I captured a few photos of a few of these species recently and below I introduce you to a few of these birds that can be seen in our state right now.

 Orange-crowned Warbler
A glimpse at one of the more common small songbirds, an Orange-crowned Warbler, currently migrating through our state .
Orange-crowned Warbler
Where’s the Orange crown, right?   Orange-crowned Warbler’s orange crown patch is typically not visible as it is concealed by feathers.  The orange crown can occasionally be seen when a bird is agitated.  Note the grayish head, yellowish body and narrow albeit distinctive white eye ring.
Orange-crowned Warbler
A closer look at an Orange-crowned Warbler reveals the breast is intricately colored with yellow and gray.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
A bird similar to the Orange-crowned Warbler is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets are small and dainty with bold white eye rings.  They are compact bundles of energy, often flicking their wings with reckless abandon.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Like the Orange-crowned Warbler, the red crown patch of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is often concealed by feathers and is only visible when birds are excited or agitated.
Palm Warbler
Among the common migrants like Orange-crowned Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets are uncommon and rare migrants such as this Palm Warbler which I found in Fillmore County on 19 September.   Palm Warblers constantly wag their tails and this behavioral trait can be a helpful in identifying the species.
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warblers are the most common migrant warbler to pass through our area in both spring and fall.   A few  have recently arrived and they should increase markedly over the next week or two.  Their distinctive “chip” call should soon be heard throughout the state.

Take a few moments and enjoy some of these birds over the next week or two.

Nongame Bird Blog

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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