Palm Warbler

Late this morning on a beautiful warm, sunny day, a small sunny bird flew up from a grassy spot along the roadside into a pecan tree. I was facing into the sun and couldn’t see it well at first, but it stayed around that area, and I gradually got close enough to see it well – a western Palm Warbler.

Small and delicate in shape, it moved around in a quick, light way, frequently wagging its tail and showing a bright yellow color under the tail. It looked more gray than brown on the back and head, though the sunlight may have made it seem so, and I could see no chestnut cap at all. Its sides were yellow, with light streaks. It flew from the branch down to the grass, foraged there, and returned to a tree several times. It seemed to be the only warbler among several Eastern Bluebirds, a couple of Chipping Sparrows, an Eastern Wood-Pewee hunting quietly, and a Northern Flicker near the top of a tree in a nearby brushy thicket. There may have been other warblers around, but though I stayed for a while watching, I could find no more.

This is an area of our neighborhood where the road is lined with pecan trees and lots of shrubs, and where I’ve often found Palm Warblers in previous years, during migration, but this is the first and only one so far this season here. I’m sure I’m just missing some, not out often enough or not observant or persistent enough – but I also think it’s likely that for some reason there are just fewer of them – and of almost all neotropical migrants – moving through our neighborhood this year. So, it was particularly nice to find this one and enjoy watching it for a while.

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