Wet Winter Warbler

The birds in my garden are quiet now, as is typical for late autumn. The usual suspects show up early in the morning for their treats: Blue Jays are all-in for the unshelled peanuts; Black-crested Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, and Carolina Wrens favor sunflower seeds and shelled peanuts. The White-winged Doves flap around the pond and bobble in the garden, but at the moment, aren’t interested in what feeders offer. When spring approaches, that will change; doves are piggy birds. House Finches and House Sparrows are mostly about keeping clean in the birdbaths and at the waterfall feature of the pond.

Winter songbirds haven’t settled in yet as seasonal residents. These are the birds who migrate south from somewhere north and visit through winter and early spring, until the instinct to nest is paramount and they fly northward again–to mate and raise chicks, a timeless and universal cycle. These wintering birds are only here for a few months. I always look forward to their arrival and grieve when they leave.

I’ve had a couple of quick glimpses of a tiny, energetic Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Corthylio calendula, but it hasn’t stopped long enough for me to get a good photo. So far, no Yellow-rumped Warblers, Setophaga coronata, also known as Butter Butts, have appeared. It should be any day now that one–or several–come to my garden. The winter warblers see the garden as a safe haven for cover, water, and food.

I have enjoyed a few visits from an Orange-crowned Warbler, Leiothlypis celata. It hops along the branches of the Shumard Oaks, often hidden behind foliage, but probably snacking on insects. The small warbler is too high and covered up for me to see it clearly. When it wants a refreshing bath, it’s out in the open, wary of all, careful and alert. Garden paparazzi takes advantage of the warbler’s bath time.

I think this one is a she-bird, though it could be a juvenile he-bird. There’s no sign of the orange crown that would indicate a male; the orange top is noticeable during bathing, as well as during the impressing-the-gals-time.

I haven’t seen the Orange-crown at any feeder, though they typically favor suet, which I haven’t bought yet. It’s on my to-do list.

As it finished up its bath and fluff, the little beak is open; I wonder if it chirped its approval (I couldn’t hear from where I sat), appreciating the splash of the water.

This winter warbler was wet. Other winter warblers are on their way.

18 thoughts on “Wet Winter Warbler

    • Apparently suet is a good nutritional substitute for insects that are scarce in the winter. Not really sure how true that would be here, given our generally warmer climate; I certainly see insects year round. I only buy one or two of the “cakes” of suet. The warblers like it, as well as the titmice, chickadees, wrens, and woodpeckers. In our milder winters, it’ll actually get moldy. I toss it in the compost bin at that point.


  1. Birds in the garden are gifts, aren’t they? I’ve been seeing lots of finches and cardinals and chickadees lately. They stay all winter, but they’ve been very active during the past few weeks. Your photos are beautiful.


  2. I had to laugh — my platform feeders are full of white-winged doves just now, and yet I haven’t seen a bluejay in weeks. There’s one chickadee who shows up, and one bright yellow goldfinch. On the other hand, I see ‘my’ hawk almost every day, so I may take to scattering some seed underneath the bushes where there’s a little more protection from predation.

    I did hear what I think was a flock of goldfinches in the oaks this morning. Given the strength of yesterday’s front, I’d not be surprised. I’m still waiting on the white pelicans, and the sandhill cranes. I hear them when I’m out and about now, but I haven’t seen them yet.


    • White-winged doves are always around–sometimes more, sometime fewer, but always around. We also have a Cooper’s Hawk who is regularly in the ‘hood. I see it almost everyday. My SIL thinks she saw two together, so I’m hoping for a pair and later, some juvie hawk!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sweet shots of this sweet little warbler, Tina. We are relatively bereft of birds in the winter as we have to curtail our feeding them because of roaming bears. With the warmer temperatures we’ve had in recent winters they are out and about much later and earlier raiding feeders and occasionally having unfortunate encounters with homeowners. We miss feeding the birds.


  4. Such a cute little bird! I bet all your wintry visitors wonder what happened to your big tree, but I’m sure that between you and your sister-in-law, you have other good shelter options for them. Merry Christmas, Tina!


  5. Pingback: What a Bum | My Gardener Says…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s