An Elusive Black-and-white Warbler

The high, sibilant weesa-weesa-weesa song of a Black-and-white Warbler surprised me this morning, coming from an area where I might least expect to find it, and at a time when I had almost given up on them. So far this spring, I’ve been sorry to see and hear only one or two Black-and-white Warblers here in our neighborhood and neither stayed around for long. In past years, they’ve almost always been among the earliest and most familiar signs of spring, often showing up in mid or even early March and lingering for many days. They’re among my favorite birds, with their crisp black-and-white stripes, methodically creeping over and around the branches, searching for insects and spiders – and usually not particularly shy or hard to find.

So it was nice to hear this one this morning, singing from a scrappy patch of young pines, oaks and undergrowth that have spread into the area behind a small business just outside our subdivision and not far from the busy highway.

The morning had begun gray, overcast and cool, but the clouds were beginning to break apart, with blue sky and sunshine showing through. Following the song, I walked off the road and up a little dirt drive that leads to a large, empty expanse of bare red clay that used to be the yard of a house that’s now abandoned. This open space is encircled with the dense growth of young pines and hardwoods where the Black-and-white Warbler was singing and singing. Though I watched and listened for several minutes, and followed the song as it moved through the pines, I never did see it. I think it’s unusual for a Black-and-white Warbler to be so elusive, but maybe it was me – just one of those frustrating times when a bird is right there in front of me – somewhere – but I can’t find it.

Finally I gave up and left, deciding to be satisfied just to have heard the song.




Leave a Reply