Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yellow-rumped Warblers Coming North

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Yellow-rumped Warbler

These warblers migrate later than most. They don't even arrive in the south until late September and they winter over much further north. If you can attract these pretty birds you will be blessed by its ferocious appetite for a variety of bugs.

There are two species of this bird. The Myrtle Warbler hangs out in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states and the Audubon Warbler is common from West Texas to Northern California.

We get to enjoy the Myrtle variety here in Virginia.  Last year we had quite a flock of them.  They really enjoyed the suet feeders on our Front Porch Bird Buffet.  I was surprised they hung around since I picture warblers in warmer weather, but I found out that the Yellow-rumped Warbler is the only warbler able to digest the waxes found in wax myrtles and bayberries. Its ability to use these fruits allows it to winter farther north than other warblers, sometimes as far north as Newfoundland. Wow!

They'd be nice to have around in summer since they eat mainly insects then, with a long list of choices: leaf and bark beetles, weevils, ants, scale insects, aphids, grasshoppers, caddisflies, craneflies, gnats, spiders, caterpillars and other larvae. Obviously the choice of caterpillars may not always be a good one if they're beautiful butterflies or beneficial moths.

They do eat spruce budworm which is a serious forest pest. Other favored fruits are juniper berries, poison ivy, poison oak, greenbrier, grapes, Virginia creeper, and dogwood. Preferred wild seeds are beach grasses and goldenrod. If they come to feeders, they'll eat sunflower seeds, raisins, peanut butter, and suet.

Watch a short video of a Yellow-rumped Warbler in the rain.

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