Nashville Warbler at Hotel Rancho San Cayetano
What a pleasure to find a Nashville Warbler lingering in the wooded valley next to our accommodations, Hotel Rancho San Cayetano in Zitacuaro, Mexico. Our morning walk into the depths of the shady glen was completed more out of curiosity than anything else. It served as a bit of exercise after a hearty breakfast and pleased our senses with the sights and sounds of tropical plants and surroundings. The presence of dozens of songbirds was an unexpected bonus.
It was quite a novel experience to find one of the birds in Mexico that we associate with spring migration in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Bob and I get very excited when Nashville Warblers start to arrive in our garden after a long, cold winter. They are a true harbinger of warmer weather.
This medium-sized warbler has a grey head with a black eye set off by a bold white eye ring. We certainly have a good view of thhis Warbler’s bright yellow throat, breast and under tail coverts in each of my photographs,
but in our brief interface with this bird, it never turned its back on us so that we could appreciate the olive-green plumage there and on its wings. It is just possible to detect the rusty brown patch on this specimen’s crown, confirming that it is a male. Only when agitated will the bird raise these brown feathers.
These warblers are small songbirds that winter from southern California and Texas, south to Central America. The warblers stem from two distinct breeding grounds, giving rise to an eastern and a western population.
The eastern population breeds in central and eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, while the western population breeds in the western United States along the Pacific Coast. Those birds that are part of the eastern population do not wag their tails, whereas those in the west do. The two forms of this species are kept separate by the Rocky Mountains and vast prairies.
Nashville Warblers are found in deciduous or mixed forests with thick undergrowth and in thickets that border swamps. Their range includes temperate, subtropical and tropical forest ecosystems.
This non-breeding male was actively foraging for insects in the foliage of the trees, targeting the tips of the twigs and leaves. These birds not only consume a variety of insects but find the eggs and larvae of certain types to be desirable fare.
During the winter months, Nashville Warblers also will ingest small berries and seeds, even nectar, to supplement their diet. It is customary for the males to forage higher in the canopy than the females, which restrict themselves to lower branches and bushes.
It was such a treat to observe this spirited little songbird that would soon be making its way north for the breeding season. Bob and I just hope that one or some of them return and enjoy a respite from their long journey in our small suburban garden . Catching a glimpse of the bright yellow plumage in my apple tree always brightens my day.