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Orange-crowned Warblers

Posted on Jan 2, 2015

As I mentioned previously my first bird of 2015 was the Blue Jay, one of the most well-known species in all of North America. They even have their own team thanks to Toronto. On the opposite end of the spectrum would be a bird like the Orange-crowned Warbler, an uncommon warbler even in some of the more common parts of its range, and a tough one to find in the Northeast in the winter (or any time, really!) regardless of their seemingly higher than average numbers this year. The species has a rather quiet and unassuming behavior and appearance with mostly drab colors, the orange crown being hidden.

My most remarkable and exciting find of New Year’s Day was not one but two Orange-crowned Warblers staying very close together while feeding in the cold sun in a small park near the Housatonic River in Stratford, Connecticut. This park is along the Sikorsky Memorial Bridge and adjacent to the United Technologies Corporation’s Sikorsky Aircraft plant, making it a small pocket of warm habitat along a major river with the perfect sort of small, shrubby growth for the species. This is precisely the sort of find we discuss in our Winter Bird Forecasts with Audubon Connecticut.

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0575

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0662

Orange-crowned Warblers (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0623

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0561

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0583

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0603

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0614

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0628

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0642

Orange-crowned Warblers (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0631

Orange-crowned Warblers (Oreothlypis celata) foraging January-0640

As you can see even in photos these were very active birds, foraging nonstop and sticking close to one another. They have excellent winter camouflage in such a setting without any snow cover. If the birds were not chipping and along the path at the same time I was there is a good chance I would have never seen them staying low and blending in to the brush.

I wish you luck with your Big January and Big Year birding. RTPI is poised to have another enormously successful year with major announcements coming up soon. Here’s to a superb 2015!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator