This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Wilson’s warbler.
Another of our yellow-colored, fall wood warblers is the Wilson’s, named in the early 1800s for American ornithologist Alexander Wilson. Its scientific name is derived from Italian words meaning small goldfinch.
Primarily breeding across most of Canada and Alaska, in migration these warblers can be seen in every state of the lower 48 of the U.S., although more commonly in the west. Its breeding range also dips south through the Rocky Mountains and Wilson’s warblers are reported in our area from May into October. With migrants moving through to winter grounds in Mexico, Central America and along the gulf coasts of the U.S., numbers peak here in September.
Like the yellow and orange-crowned warbler, the Wilson’s nests in riparian area thickets of willows, alders and shrubs. Their use of open nesting habitats has allowed these three warbler species to breed further north than species which rely on tall trees.
The Wilson’s warbler is a bird in constant motion, flicking its wings and tail as it hops around gleaning insects in shrubs and trees. It is all yellow below with an olive-colored back, small thin bill and black beady eyes. Males wear a black beret cap of feathers which is faint or missing in females.
Partners in Flight lists the Wilson’s warbler as a “Common Species in Steep Decline.” We can help birds by avoiding the use of herbicides and pesticides which may contain chemicals toxic to birds and which eliminate insects that birds depend upon for food.
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