Friday, September 24, 2010

Birdcraft Connecticut Warbler and Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Early Thursday morning the amazing banding crew at the Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary in Fairfield captured a female Connecticut Warbler in their mist nets. This is the prime time for the species to be heading through the state. Despite the name, they are rare in Connecticut, for the most part occurring only in September and October. They pass through our state from the boreal forest in Canada on their way to spend the winter in the northern half of South America. Their spring migration pathway concentrates them nearly exclusively over the central U.S. While this is still the case for most individuals in fall, some make their way to the Atlantic coast. The large warbler is a shy skulker, preferring to stay hidden in leaf litter, the behavior only adding to their overall elusiveness.

I squeezed some time into my morning to try to relocate it, and while I was searching, I discovered a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. They are not particularly rare and breed across Connecticut, but can be tough birds to find and actually see due to their secretive habits. This individual was the most cooperative I have ever seen, feeding on the edges of the pond, even pausing for a moment to allow me to snap a few photos. It even took a good long look at me even though I was still about 30 feet away.

I mentioned it was around the "pond", and unfortunately, I am using the term loosely. This is the current state of the pond. While we are not in an official drought, localized areas of Connecticut are in desperate need of rain. Clearly this section of Fairfield is one of them despite the fact strong thunderstorms had passed through the area only about 15 hours earlier.

Let us hope the rain comes soon before the conditions become even more dangerous. Back to the birds - I put Yellow-billed Cuckoo sighting out on the public CT birding list and departed, intending to return later for another quick warbler search. I arrived to see our friend Tina Green looking for it, having already seen the seemingly sociable cuckoo. To my great surprise, I was able to locate the Connecticut Warbler within about a minute while we discussed it. It was in the perfect spot for the species, an area where Ovenbirds often show up in spring, a seemingly "forested" leaf litter area along the pond. It skulked around and disappeared after giving us a nice close look. We did not see it again, and I could not get any photos.

This is the second Connecticut Warbler that the Birdcraft crew has banded this fall. Can they go for three?! Stop by soon to see if you can pick one up. Perhaps today's birds will still be there tomorrow...

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

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