Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

After weeks without a proper sighting, I finally saw a Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) foraging in the top branches of the trees near the observation deck at Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge. I stood on the platform for nearly 45 minutes but did not get any clear photos. The sky was overcast, and the lighting was poor. I returned the next day and this time I had more luck.

Due to its diverse habitat, which includes a mix of wetlands, forests, and open fields the refuge is a known hotspot for Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia) and many other warbler species. The habitat provides ample food sources, such as insects and berries, and suitable nesting areas. But honestly, for me, finding any kind of warbler in the refuge was challenging even though its location along migratory routes makes it an ideal stopover for warblers during their seasonal migrations.

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) · 2 May 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

(Myrtle) Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Spring moult leaves them with a mix of bright yellow, charcoal grey and black, and bold white.

I am always on a hunt for Warblers. I just love their song and their festive colours. I expect that soon Institute Woods will be filled with them. If I can find them.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata), commonly known as the Myrtle Warbler, is a small songbird found across North America. It belongs to the family Parulidae and is known for its distinctive yellow patches on the rump and sides. The Myrtle Warbler has two main subspecies: the eastern "Myrtle" and the western "Audubon's."

The Myrtle Warbler primarily inhabits coniferous or mixed forests during the breeding season, nesting in trees and foraging for insects and berries. During migration and winter, it can be found in various habitats, including woodlands, shrubby areas, fields, parks, and residential areas. Its diet consists of insects, spiders, fruits, and berries. The species exhibits typical warbler behaviours such as flitting between branches, sallying out to catch insects, and making distinctive calls. Its breeding range extends from Alaska to Newfoundland in the north and from Canada to the Gulf Coast in the south.

(Myrtle) Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)
(Myrtle) Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) · 14 April 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

(Myrtle) Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

The Yellow-rumped Warble species is one of the most widespread and most commonly encountered but I have photographed a Yellow-rumped Warbler only once before; during the fall migration and my first visit to the The Beanery at Rea Farm.

There are two main populations: "Audubon's" found in the western U.S. and British Columbia mountains, and "Myrtle" found from the eastern U.S. to Alaska.

Both populations display bright yellow rumps and sides, with "Audubon's" having yellow throats and "Myrtle" having white throats that extend below the cheek. They breed in coniferous or mixed forests near clearings and are also found in various habitats during migration and winter, including woodlands, shrubby areas, coastal dunes, fields, parks, and residential areas.

The one I photographed in Cape May and the one I photographed in my backyard are Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warblers. I was very excited and very surprised when I heard the Warbler. I pulled out the Merlin ID app to confirm the call and then sat patiently on the deck in the backyard for my entire lunchtime, waiting for the opportunity. I struggled to get a good clear photograph of the Warbler.

Yellow-rumped Warblers primarily feed on insects, often seen hopping between perches. They also consume berries in winter. Their calls are distinct: "check" for Myrtle and rising "chit" for Audubon’s. I could hear two distinct calls from either end of the woods beyond the fence line.