Hidden in the New Green Leaves – Black-throated Blue Warbler, Female Scarlet Tanager, and Northern Parula

This morning a Black-throated Blue Warbler near the edge of the woods was close enough to see. It sang its buzzy beer-beer-beer-BEE as it moved through a tangle of wet green leaves in the undergrowth. First I saw its dark-blue back and the white patch in the wing, then it turned toward me, showing the black throat and snow-white belly – and it parted its bill and sang again – a beautiful view.

This last day of April has been a perfect April day, beginning foggy and cool, and slowly clearing. The pretty, jingling songs of Yellow-rumped Warblers still fill the trees, and I could also hear a Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Brown Thrasher, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Great Crested Flycatcher, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and the mews of dozens of Cedar Waxwings. Three Chimney Swifts flew below the murky clouds, twittering.

I was checking out almost every small bird – most were Yellow-rumped Warblers – when one turned out to be a female Scarlet Tanager, olive-yellow with almost-black wings, eating a large fat green caterpillar.

A Northern Parula sang in the same area of trees, but was very hard to find among all the Yellow-rumped Warblers. Finally, I did succeed in catching just a very brief glimpse of its small, round shape with blue-gray head, deep-yellow throat and chest, white belly, and a fleeting impression of a dark coral band across the breast – and then it flew again. It was too high and moving too quickly among the leaves to see all the field marks – the green back, white wing bars and white crescents around the eyes. But even a shadowy glimpse like this made it feel closer and more real.

In contrast, the radiant red and black colors of a male Scarlet Tanager in a pecan tree stood out clearly. It sang, and gave its chick-brrr calls around our yard for most of the day. I am delighted to have it staying around, and also kind of amazed, it’s like having a celebrity drop by and stay a while.

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