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This week spring migration moved into the northeast like a tidal wave.  After weeks of the slow buildup of new arrivals, the floodgates opened on Friday.  The New York City Parks were host to a great wave of migrants, and I was lucky enough to get in on some of the fun on Saturday morning at Alley Pond Park in Queens.  Below is a sampling of some of the more cooperative species photographed on Saturday morning, along with a few ID notes that most of you will already be familiar with.  As a side note- I'll be leading a birding trip to Alley next Saturday, May 10th, meeting time 7 AM. The trip is run by a local Audubon group, but is open to the public free of charge. No guarantees that the birding will be as good as it was this weekend, but, since it's free, you'll at least get your money's worth!

I'll be out birding this morning, but can check back later for comments or questions.

Although the landbird migration includes thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, tanagers grosbeaks and other groups, around here it's the warblers that are the main attraction for most birders.  Most pass within a span of a few weeks, are brightly colored, bounce around in the tops of 80 foot trees while singing loud, persistent songs that take some practice to decipher- in a nutshell they are challenging, but rewarding.

Among the 20 or so "easy" species, Black-throated Blue Warbler is one of the real gems.

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler- blue back
Dark blue and black, with a gleaming white belly, they often venture down to eye level.
Black throat and sides
They sing a buzzy slurred, sometimes almost dreamy "zur zur zur zeeee!"
with a distinctive white spot along the lower edge of the wing.
Black and White Warbler is one of our most common.  They are among a small group that stays and breeds in our area.  They sound like a squeaky wheel- "Eesy eesy, eesy eesy".
Black and White Warbler- no explanation necessary!
Another common migrant which occasionally breeds in the area is Black-throated Green Warbler.  There were several males in the area where I photographed this female, but my attention was diverted for a while by a much rarer and uncooperative Kentucky Warbler.  Male Black-throated Greens sing a buzzy song that sort of sounds like Zoo zee zoozoo zee"- which obviously translates as "trees trees, murmurin' trees".  OK, I know how that sounds, but it is surprisingly helpful!
Female Black-throated Green Warbler- the yellow face and black throat are more subdued than those shown by the male.
Chestnut-sided Warbler used to be easier to find around here, but breeding populations have decreased and migrants seem to have as well.
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Chestnut-sideds tend to be eye-level birds.  The classic song goes kind of like "Pleased, pleased, pleased to Meetcha" with an emphatic ending.  I can usually pick it out, but it is often very similar to Magnolia, Redstart and Yellow- all of which are much more common.  
Dark reddish sides and bright yellow cap
A great looking bird- a lot of people's favorite!
And speaking of Magnolia, here's a poor photo of a nice male- one of my favorite birds.
Magnolia Warbler
This weekend's flight included a LOT of Northern Parulas-
Male Northern Parula
Parulas mostly stay up in the treetops, singing a rising buzzy song that goes up in steps, then 'flips' at the top.  Very distinctive.
Northern Parula showing its blue back and yellow throat crossed by a dark breast band.
Northern Parula
The only North American Warbler with a bicolored bill- dark upper and yellow lower mandibles.
and bold white wingbars.
There were a few American Redstarts in this weekend's flight, but they usually become pretty abundant by mid-May.
American Redstart- male is jet black with orange flashes in the wings and tail and along his sides
Lots of Wood Thrushes and Veeries were around this weekend as well.  Of the six species of brown thrushes found here, Veeries are the least spotted on the breast.
Veery- not a warbler, but a thrush. Tawny brown above with almost no throat spotting.
Northern Waterthrush- actually a warbler, is common throughout the migration period. Its more southern counterpart, Louisiana Waterthrush, shows up here earlier- arriving in late March and barely lingering into May.
Northern Waterthrush- not a thrush, but a warbler..
Heavily streaked underparts including the throat- a characteristic that separates it from the similar Louisiana Waterthrush.
Another view of Veery.
All tallied- a total of 21 species of warblers at Alley Saturday morning.  Not a bad start to the migration frenzy.

Originally posted to nookular on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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