Announcing the #PhotoBigDay

big day logoThe brainchild of Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, co-authors of The Warbler Guide, the Photo Big Day presents a fun, new challenge for birders of all levels. Big Days are established fundraising events — teams of four birders head out to spot as many birds as they can in the span of 24 hours. The big difference this time around is that every sighting has to be documented on film.

We are proud to be co-sponsoring and supporting this effort and we hope you will check out more information at the links below. Good luck to Team Warbler!!!

MORE INFORMATION:
http://www.bigbirdphotoday.org Find out about big photo days, start your own team, raise funds, and more!

http://www.listing.aba.org The official home of big day lists, allows ABA members to upload their totals and results and see records for any area, and will also be live blogging and tweeting the Big Photo Day!

http://www.warblerguide.com Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson’s site, with info on the Big Photo Day, and much more

http://www.facebook.com/warblerguide For more updates and live posts from Team Warbler

Follow us on Twitter @thewarblerguide

And find out more with #PhotoBigDay

Migration Quiz Monday: It’s a Feathered Frenzy!

Stephenson_WarblerGGreetings bird-lovers! I know technically it’s Thursday (Happy Thanksgiving and first day of Hanukkah by the way!), but today is our ultimate Migration Quiz Monday! Our favorite warblers experts, Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, authors of The Warbler Guide, have been incredibly busy touring for their book and attending birding festivals, while still trying to fit in their favorite pastime, birding!

They finally got a chance to post a slew of quiz questions and answers on their blog a few days ago, but rather than posting each one and crowding up your nest- I mean computer screen- with links and posts and bird puns, I thought it would be easier if I gave you just one simple link to click on and check out all of their quizzes at once at The Warbler Guide.com. Enjoy!


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format including photos and real text from the guide
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos


Migration Quiz Monday: The Swamp Answer

Ready for the big reveal? It’s time to find out where Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson, co-authors of The Warbler Guide, found this bird call, and which of our three winged options it came from.


Audio Quiz: Swamp Answer

Click Here To Listen

QUIZ SONG – ONE SECTION OF REPEATED, 4-ELEMENT PHRASES – PITCH MOVES IN ONE DIRECTION.

So this is a 1-Section song. It consists of one Phrase that is repeated over and over. (A Phrase is a group of different Elements that are repeated several times.) The Phrase is intricate, with 4 Elements.

Notice that each Phrase covers a lot of frequencies, including some that are very low. The first Element of each Phrase looks like a very straight line. This indicates many frequencies being sung at the same time, creating a very strong accent or even noise-like sound. The Elements in the rest of the Phrase sound staccato, as they are short, and have a much smaller pitch range.  And they rise in pitch, one to the next.

All of the suggested species share this same basic structure: 1 Section with several repeated Phrases, each of which consists of a few Elements. Let’s first look at Kentucky Warbler and see if it fits.

Click Here To Listen

KENTUCKY WARBLER: THE ELEMENTS ARE LOW AND COMPRESSED IN PITCH RANGE.

The first thing we hear (and see) is that all of these Elements are very similar to each other. There is nothing like the variety of sound we hear in the target song. Also, the pitch is low and doesn’t cover nearly the same range, making the song sound duller and less strident.

Common Yellowthroat’s song does have a lot of variety in its Elements.

Click Here To Listen

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT: LESS ACCENTED, SLOWER, AND HIGHER, WITH UP/DOWN PITCH MOVEMENTS.

And it covers a very wide range of frequencies, although it doesn’t go nearly as low as the target song. Also, the Elements are somewhat longer, and thus sound less staccato or accented. The speed of the Phrases is also noticeably slower, in fact about half as fast. That enhances the more melodic quality of the Common Yellowthroat’s song.

Finally the pitch profile of each Phrase is a slower, more gentle, up/down form. All in all, Common Yellowthroat sounds more mellow or sing-songy than the target song, which has a very strong accent followed by a rapidly rising series of short Elements.

All of the features of the target song fit the various, variable songs of Carolina Wren. The key to identifying this species, and separating it from other species, is each Phrase’s very fast, sharp, accented Element that is then followed by a series of short Elements with either a rising or falling overall pitch profile. The fairly fast speed and wide pitch range, adds to the song’s effect.


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

The Warbler Guide to Aging and Sexing Sheet

Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, authors of The Warbler Guide, have a reputation for presenting information to their readers in new and helpful ways. This includes looking at birding in the field as realistically as possible while teaching people to not just look for the same obvious features every time when trying to identify a bird. Taking it to another level, the two have a sheet designed to help birders determine the age and sex of the warbler they are viewing:


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.


Migration Quiz Monday: The Swamp Question

After a short hiatus, we’re back with Migration Quiz Monday! Hope you don’t get too stumped by this birdcall, along with a couple distinguishing features. Have a guess? Comment below and check back later this week for the answer!


Audio Quiz: Swamp Question

carwre quiz fin

Click Here To Listen

This species is a very vocal singer, has many variations, and is often confused with other species, especially from the distance. This one Section song could be Common Yellowthroat, Kentucky Warbler or even Carolina Wren. Which is it?

COMYEL_042608#2KENWAR100422_35CARWRE_022009#10

(click to enlarge)


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

Solution for Week Two Migration Quiz Monday

Visual Quiz: Bird On The Ground Answered

Ready to find out the solution to this week’s Migration Quiz Monday from the authors who brought us The Warbler Guide? Then read on below!

bird1

OUR QUIZ BIRD

Let’s look at the Warbler Guide Finders to narrow this one down.  There are a number of birds with yellow in them…let’s see if there are any other features we can find that will help us narrow it down.

bir

THE FINDERS SHOW A NUMBER OF YELLOW BIRDS – WHAT ELSE CAN WE LOOK FOR?

Let’s work from head to tail … on the head we see a pronounced supercillium (eyebrow)…that should be helpful!  There’s a tinge of brown on the crown, too.  The upperparts of the back are brownish – and look at those wings…there are wingbars but they’re brown, which might be another useful point.  The underparts are patchy yellow, and the rump and undertail are yellow (brighter in the undertail).
bird

SOME USEFUL MARKS INCLUDE A WIDE SUPERCILLIUM, BROWN IN THE CROWN AND WINGS, BROWNISH WING BARS, PATCHY YELLOW IN THE BODY, AND A YELLOW RUMP AND UNDERTAIL.

So let’s look again at the finders…there really aren’t that many birds that are drabish yellow with a strong supercillium.  I see Palm, Prairie, Hooded, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Blackburnian, Worm-eating, Swainsons, Blackpoll, and Yellow-rumped (Myrtle).  Out of those, which have yellow in the body or undertail?  Just Palm, Prairie, Hooded, Orange-crowned and maybe Blackpoll.  Great!  We’re really narrowing it down now.

biiii

ONLY A FEW SPECIES HAVE A SUPERCILLIUM AND ARE DRABISH-YELLOW LIKE OUR QUIZ BIRD.

Here’s something else, though…what about those brown wingbars?  And the yellow upper and undertail?  Really, that only looks like Palm as far as I can see.  If I go to the Palm Warbler account, I see that in fact those are a unique combo…and combined with tail-pumping, this looks like a really good match.

bbb

OUR PALM WARBLER COMPARISON PAGE CONFIRMS THE ID.
The only thing close is Prairie…but look how the wingabars are yellow, not brown, the streaking is black as opposed to reddish-brown, and the Prairie has a distinct facial pattern that is different from Palm.  It is, in fact, a fall Palm Warbler.  These birds are often seen feeding on the ground, and also in small flocks.  Their continuous tail-pumping is a great tip-off, too, and although there are some other tail-pumping warblers (the Waterthrushes, Magnolia, Prairie and Kirtland).  the flocking, yellow undertail and rump, brownish wingbars (and often crown) and sometimes brown breast streaks are all separators.


And to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering, check out the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

Fall Warbler Sighting!

Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson, authors of The Warbler Guide, are busy all month with events (see here), but that won’t stop us from keeping their awesome warbler images coming!

The photo below from The Warbler Guide is of a female Black-and-white Warbler in the fall, snapped by none other than Scott Whittle himself. And don’t worry, we promise the bird is upside down, not your computer!

Black-and-white warbler
Have you spotted any interesting birds this migration season? Let us know in the comments below!

Upcoming Warbler Events

Stephenson_WarblerGLooking for more opportunities to get a little bird-brained? So are Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson, authors of The Warbler Guide! As November rapidly approaches, the two are gearing up for their next two appearances.

For their first event, this dynamic duo will be speaking at the NYSOA 66th Annual Meeting and New York Birders Conference, which will take place November 1-3. Hurry though! Online registration ends October 27th. You can register here.

The conference will feature:

  • Exciting speakers on birding and bird conservation, including Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle
  • Field trips with top birders to great local destinations
  • A banquet dinner featuring a program by James Currie of Birding Adventures TV
  • Photography and digiscoping field workshops
  • Posters and vendor tables including major optics manufacturers
  • Workshops and student papers
  • Great shopping nearby and an excursion to Manhattan for non-birding guests
  • NYSOA’s Annual Business Meeting and award presentations
  • Plenty of time for socializing

P1020402aThe second event, in which Scott Whittle will be flying solo, is the 20th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, which will take place from November 6-10. Online registration ends October 25th so to register now, click here. According to their website, Scott Whittle will be there to conduct a ‘warbler workshop’. It is described as such:

“[Scott will] go over their new system of identification that uses the views that you actually get, not the idealized views that happen so infrequently. Learn how just a little more attention to detail, coupled with knowledge of habitat, behavior and special points like color impressions can lead to greatly improved identification ability. Also covered will be their in-depth analysis of warbler vocalizations, an extremely effective tool for truly understanding and remembering birdsong. Join Scott and bring your warbler skills up to the next level!”

Fall Warblers

For guys like Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson, authors of The Warbler Guide, spotting a warbler and snapping a picture is an exciting moment, and for those of us who stepped on a twig and scared that bird off long before we got out our iPhone, we’re just glad someone else is able to get the job done.

The photo below from The Warbler Guide is of a male Common Yellowthroat in the fall.

Common Yellowthroat

Have you spotted any interesting birds this migration season? Let us know in the comments below!

Birding Festivals All Year Long

With theWeb_Banner Cape May Birding Festival a little over a week away (October 25-27), you might be packing up your birding binoculars for the trip and practicing your bird calls, or you might be lamenting the fact that for some reason, you won’t be able to make it this year. Fear not! With the help of The Warbler Guide website, we’ve put together a list of awesome birding festivals throughout the year so that you never have to go too long without your feathery fix. Whether you live on the east coast or the west, this massive birding community has got your back all year long.

Rio Grande Birding Festival - November 6-10, 2013 – Harlingen, TX

Biggest Week of American Birding - May 6-15th – Black Swamp Bird Observatory, OH

Cape May Autumn Birding Festival - October 25-27, 2013 – Cape May, NJ (Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, authors of The Warbler Guide, will be in attendance!)

Space Coast Birding Festival - January 22-27, 2014 – Titusville, FL

San Diego Bird Festival – February 27-March 2, 2014 – San Diego, CA

Midwest Bird Symposium – September 19-22, 2013 – Lakeside, OH

Migration Quiz Monday: Week Two!

Ready for round two? It’s the second Migration Quiz Monday and this time we’re got a picture of a bird that we need help identifying, along with a couple distinguishing features. Have a guess? Comment below and check back later this week for the answer!


Visual Quiz: Bird on the Ground

PALWAR101009_33T.jpg

A mystery bird in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

This is a bird we found walking around Prospect Park in Brooklyn in the fall.   It’s a drab yellowish warbler that’s feeding along the edge of a park meadow, picking insects off the ground and low branches, and it seems to be pumping its tail regularly.  What is it?


Don’t forget to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering by clicking on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.

 

The Mystery Trill: Solution!

Recently posted on TheWarblerGuide.com as well, here is the answer to the mystery trill question posted earlier this week!
Plus don’t forget to check back here next week for our next Migration Quiz Monday!


Audio Question: Trills Answer

This song obviously has two different Sections. The first has 8 Elements. Although they are fairly fast, they are slow enough to be very distinct and it’s possible to imagine counting the number while it’s singing. The Elements are somewhat emphatic and bright, as they are Expanded and cover a large frequency range.

The second Section is lower, and way too fast to count; a trill. The pitch is fairly stable during both Sections.

It turns out this speed difference between the first and second Sections is an important clue.  Let’s first examine Orange-crowned Warbler’s song.

ORCWAR_121108#08-2

Many Orange-crowned songs have a similar form: 2 Sections, the second lower. However the speed is much different. Both Sections are so fast that it would be impossible to imagine counting the number of Elements. This characteristic: that all Sections of this species’ songs are sung at trill speed is a very good ID point.

Also, the pitch tends to drift and, in general, the Elements are less Expanded and thus less emphatic.

Based on these characteristics we can rule out Orange-crowned.

Nashville also has a similar song form: 2 Sections, the second lower.

NASWAR100425_07

However Nashville’s first Sections are quite different. Instead of short, fairly emphatic 1-Element Phrases, Nashville’s songs are almost always 2-Element Phrases. And the Phrase speed is considerably slower. This more deliberate speed, with 2-Element Phrases, makes it easy to separate Nashville from this song.

That leaves Wilson’s Warbler. Wilson sings a fairly wide range of songs. Many are only 1-Section, often falling in pitch towards the end. They also sing 2-Section songs like our target song.

WILWAR_102107#03-2

The key point is that the first Sections are fairly emphatic Phrases that are never fast enough to be a Trill. And although they can be somewhat intricate, the Phrases are never made up of 2 separate, repeated Elements.


Don’t forget to check out the free downloads we’re currently offering. Click on the links below:
Crossley ID Guide Raptors : A sampler raptor guide in PDF format
Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide : A ‘quick finder’ designed to help you identify over 50 warblers faster with targeted color photos.