Let's talk about warblers! 6-13-22

June 13, 2022  •  Leave a Comment



It's miserably hot here and over much of the country,

so like many of you, I'm trying to stay cool inside today.


Post-spring migration, we birders tend to feel bereft of 'our' warblers! We can never get enough of them in their breeding splendor. So, how many warblers can one hope to see in spring in our area? There are three references that help determine this, links will open in a new tab.


First, the checklist:  Birds of Missouri Checklist


Scroll down to #386 Ovenbird to look at the warbler species. There are 42 species listed, but we sure won't see them all. You can click on each name to see a photo and more information from All About Birds. You can view the Seasonal Status and Abundance Status. This is important to help understand when a bird should be here and whether it's common, accidental or even extinct. 


Second, obtain a free download:  The Status and Distribution of Birds of Missouri, 2nd Edition


This is the most in-depth, go-to reference on all bird species seen here in our state. It has records of early and late dates, habitats where it is most likely to find certain birds and so much more. 


Third, get a free publication from the Missouri Department of Conservation:  Enjoying Missouri's Birds



This recently revised booklet, mentioned before, is great to have on hand to check the charts on when and where a bird is most likely to be seen and how rare it may be. You can obtain this free 42-page booklet in several ways. Just go to any of the MDC regional offices or nature centers and ask for it, or you can call or email to have it sent to you. It's a hot item!

Call MDC:  573-751-4115 and ask to be connected with Publications and ask for #W00002

Email MDC:  [email protected]


OR, join the Missouri Birding Society and this booklet will come as part of your new member packet!  Missouri Birding Society


Here in our Shady Oaks Sanctuary, we have documented 35 species of warblers over 25+ years. Some are identified by song, some by sight, some have been photographed. Even though species may have ancestors that have been here and put our location into their genetic code, there is no guarantee that offspring of that species will show up every year. And that is the pure and simple reason we keep looking, we never know what may drop in with a mixed flock and forage through our layered canopy or drink at the bubbler! 


FOY 87 Ovenbird 5-1-19FOY 87 Ovenbird 5-1-19

Ovenbirds are typically seen every year, though they are not always as cooperative as the bird you see in the photo above.


4-30-22 Yellow Warbler singing4-30-22 Yellow Warbler singing

Yellow Warbler


This year was exceptional for Yellow Warblers because we saw at least one on each of 12 different days. It is a common transient. 


4-29-22 Pine Warbler4-29-22 Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler


Pine Warblers are more often heard in early March as they forage in pines in our neighborhood. This long-tailed warbler was here on several days,  4-29-22 thru 5-1-22 as a northbound migrant. I was surprised to see it then and it is rare at that time but regularly seen in the St. Louis area. I discovered this detail when I checked my copy of The Status and Distribution of Birds of Missouri.


4-29-20 Worm-eating Warbler4-29-20 Worm-eating Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler


I enjoyed watching a Worm-eating Warbler on 4-23-22 while it was singing in a Redbud (Cercis canadensis), but I was unable to get on it quickly enough to photograph. The one above was foraging in an American Elm (Ulmus americana) on 4-29-20. 


Yellow-breasted ChatYellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat


On 7-30-14, a bird that was considered a wood-warbler at the time visited our garden, a Yellow-breasted Chat. Its status in the wood-warbler family was frequently questioned for many reasons. "It had many traits atypical of wood-warblers--large size, eclectic vocal repertoire, behavior and certain anatomical features. In 2017, it was elevated to its own family, Icteriidae." So, I wanted to share this story because with genetics, more is being learned all the time about where birds should be placed in the taxonomic order. So, it is not included in our wood-warbler count.

(Quote paraphrased from Birds of the World, subscription reference through Cornell Laboratory)


Black-throated Blue Warbler on 5-13-05Black-throated Blue Warbler on 5-13-05 Black-throated Blue female 9-13-17Black-throated Blue female 9-13-17

Black-throated Blue Warbler


This bird is a rare migrant, especially in spring when it is considered the 'holy grail' of migration here in our area. A male came to the Bubbler on 5-13-05, I could barely catch my breath it was so exciting to see! I called my dear friend, Tina Weyman. Somehow, she understood me during that early morning call when I said, "Buh-buh-buh-Black-throated Buh-buh-Blue!" And, Tina made it here in time to see it, too. 


Years later, a female came by in the fall on 9-13-17 and I followed it for a couple hours. This species is rare anytime, maybe 1-2 are seen each year in the eastern part of Missouri. Most springs, this species goes unrecorded in the west.


5-9-22 FOY Bay-breasted Warbler5-9-22 FOY Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler


From the uncommon Bay-breasted Warbler to the rarer species, birders feel the need to see every one each spring. And if we don't see them, we start looking again in late summer with hopes of adding them to our year lists in the fall! Welcome to the obsessive life of birding!




To review the warblers of this past spring, begin here: Warblers beginning 4-20-22


All the photos are now in the galleries, so here are a few if you want to quiz yourselves. Answers will be posted next time!



5-2-22 Orange-crowned Warbler5-2-22 Orange-crowned Warbler


5-4-22 Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers5-4-22 Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers

2. In front

3. In back

5-3-22 FOY Magnolia Warbler, "tail dipped in ink"5-3-22 FOY Magnolia Warbler, "tail dipped in ink"


5-9-22 Blackburnian Warbler female5-9-22 Blackburnian Warbler female


5-11-22 Bay-breasted Warbler female5-11-22 Bay-breasted Warbler female



Stay cool, stay safe!





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