Sunday 2 June 2013

Breeding Prairie Warblers at Carden!

On May 31, I decided to take the day off of work and bird the Carden Alvar area. Jeremy Bensette was driving up from Leamington and we were hoping to get him as many lifers as possible since he had never really birded away from Essex Couny at this time of year.

I'll make a separate post containing all of the other highlights, but for now I'll just share the photos of the Prairie Warblers, which ended up being the highlight of the day for us.

A week or two ago, a singing male Prairie Warbler was found along Alvar Road at the Carden Alvar. I'm not sure who the original finder was, but several birders had seen it since. Brett Fried and Barb Charlton gave Jeremy and I directions to the spot, and it wasn't long before we heard the ascending series of short, quick buzzes; diagnostic of Prairie Warbler. The bird was singing from publically accessable land so we wandered back a ways until we saw him perched at the top of a White Spruce, singing his heart out.

male Prairie Warbler - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

Eventually he came closer to check us out, and quickly became slightly agitated. The reason for his concern was obvious a minute later - a female Prairie Warbler started chipping in some bushes!

female Prairie Warbler - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

male Prairie Warbler - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

male Prairie Warbler - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

I would have loved to stay longer and try to find the nest, but the birds were becoming agitated so we figured that it was time to leave. Not before one last series of photos of the male, perched out in the open at close range!

male Prairie Warbler - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

male Prairie Warbler - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

Prairie Warblers, while uncommonly seen during the breeding season in Ontario, are actually fairly regular (but local) breeders. They occur in open, sunny areas with numerous bushes and shrubs for perching, in the southern Canadian Shield region. While they are abundant on the islands of southeastern Georgian Bay and the adjacent mainland, they become much more sporadic further east. This alvar habitat here in this section of Carden seems perfect for Prairie Warblers.

Prairie Warbler relative abundance (OBBA)


Blake A. Mann said...

Very nice photos of the warbler!
We used to get Prairie Warblers at Pinery PP regularly nesting, but that was long ago. Habitat has changed a bit too.

Michael said...

Brilliant post Josh. This is a favourite ON warbler.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Michael. I hope the west is treating you well!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Blake. Too bad about the Pinery birds. We usually have one on territory in Hamilton, though I haven't heard any news on whether it is back this year.

Corey said...

Hey Josh great shots I was up there both sat and Sunday and had no luck and I spent a good amount of time looking did you see them on Alvar Road

Reuven Martin said...

Apparently the Hamilton spot was cut and isn't appropriate habitat any more.

Anonymous said...

That must have been what everyone was going on about on Hamiltonbirds (didn't really read those posts)