The Poets’ Birds ~ The Warblers

I’ll confess that I giggled a bit when friend Tina of My Gardener Says first mentioned the presence of ‘butter butts’ in her yard. It seemed such an improbable name, until I learned that the more polite version is ‘Yellow-rumped,’ and that both names refer to a little patch of yellow on the nether end of the warbler Setophaga coronata.

Wintertime warblers are easy to find here, especially in places like Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, where plentiful, berry-filled wax myrtles draw them in. Able to digest the wax in berries, the warblers often supplement their insect-heavy diet with berries of juniper, wax myrtle and poison ivy.

In fall and winter, they also frequent more open woods and shrubby areas like the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge, where the flitty little creature shown above paused long enough in its foraging for me to capture its image.

Wax myrtle berries and budding leaves

Two subspecies of the Yellow-rumped Warbler exist: the Myrtle Warbler, found primarily in the eastern United States and Canada, and the Audubon’s Warbler, a bird of western states. The Audubon’s throat is yellow, while the Myrtle’s is white, so I seem to have found a Myrtle Warbler.

Poet Kevin Cole, a resident of South Dakota, may see more Audubon’s Warblers: reason enough to celebrate that bird in his poem of the same name. Despite slight differences in the birds, the poem seems applicable to both.

The Audubon warblers keep the time of their coming,
Arriving on stillness of a storm,
Their breast and backs as dark as low bruised banks of cloud,
Rumps and throats as yellow as blooms of buckwheat.
They throng this evening in the newly-leaved,
Tender-tipped canopies nervously weaving
Through the catkins like frantic prophets
Bearing some divine prophecy of the coming spring.
I wait, hoping for nothing too grave:
News of ruinous lands, of cutting and swarming locusts,
Of withering vines and empty granaries,
Of fasting, weeping, and rending of garments.
No, I wait for lighter fare:
Perhaps a promise that the green heron will nest
On the west end of the slough and that the ironweed
And wood lily will once again together bloom.
This would be an ample prophecy for another year—
This, and a promise to keep the time of their coming.

 

Comments always are welcome.
Poet Kevin Cole earned his BA and MA in literature from Texas A&M University, and a PhD in literature from Baylor University. He currently teaches English at the University of Sioux Falls.

118 thoughts on “The Poets’ Birds ~ The Warblers

  1. I enjoyed this celebration of the yellow-rumped warbler, Linda. We have them flitting around in our budding oak trees right now, as they migrate north through No. Calif. They do a wonderful job of plucking little destructive worms from the budding leaves. They are such an active bird, and so beautiful, and their happy chipping sounds always lift my head, searching for their presence. Your photos here are lovely and I’m impressed that you were able to capture this lovely photo of the bird despite it’s energetic ways.

    1. I rarely was able to see one in our local parks and woodlands, thanks to that level of activity. They did tend to stay in the tops of the trees, which only made things more difficult. At the refuge, as the foliage began to fade in early autumn, I at least could see them, and spot that little yellow patch on their rumps. Once I could identify them with certainty, it was just a matter of patience; eventually, I was able to capture one’s image to share.

      Our live oak trees have begun budding now, too. The leaf loss because of our unusual freeze seems heavier than usual, but the trees themselves are doing well — as are some of our usual spring bloomers, like redbuds. It’s so very good to see.

    1. They are cute little birds, and the bits of yellow on them only increases their visual appeal. An acquaintance told me this is the bird that began her grandson’s interest in birding. Being able to say ‘butter butt’ without being chastised for bad language was a big plus for him.

    1. Their calls and songs are easy to distinguish, too — at least, once I’d learned to listen for them. It helps to know the sounds of birds like these, since they can help find the little beauties when they’re hidden in the trees.

  2. Dear Linda,
    we have warblers here as well, but what kind of warblers we don’t know. We have to ask our dear Dina, who is just out photographing, she knows the birds much better than we do.
    Your picture is perfect, you got the decisive moment we just blogged about. Well done!
    Wishing you all the best, thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    :-) :-) :-) :-)

    1. An afternoon spent listening to warblers of any kind can bring as much pleasure as seeing them, I think. I’ve not yet read your post, but of course the phrase ‘the decisive moment’ brings to mind Henri Cartier-Bresson. I’ve been unable to find a source for a quotation attributed to him, but I certainly have found it to be true: “You just have to live, and then life will give you photographs.” Of course, for that to be true, the first step is learning how to live.

    1. You’re welcome; I’m glad you enjoyed it. The photo and the poem do fit together nicely. I’ve known the poem for some time, but it took a while to achieve a suitable photo.

    1. Now that I know that little yellow patch exists, it’s been easier for me to distinguish these. Listening to their songs and calls helped, too. They aren’t as ‘musical’ as I thought a warbler would be. Once I sorted that out, things got easier.

    1. Thanks, John. Cole hasn’t written a lot, and there isn’t much of his work online, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. I’ve ordered his book, titled Late Summer Plums, and I suspect I’ll be sharing more of his work in the future.

  3. Great shot, Linda! They’re flitty little things, aren’t they? I had 4 of them during our Arctic week, but since then, just the little female who has spent winter in the garden. There is a young male who shows up now and then, but not often.

    I loved the poem and while I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that there is poetry dedicated to the charmers, I never even thought to research that possibility.

    My little friend will be leaving in the next weeks, I suspect–but there will likely be more coming through and they’re very welcome.

    1. I’m so glad you introduced me to the warblers, and I’m glad I discovered Kevin Cole. From what I can tell, he’s only published one book of poems, but the publishing house is named Scurfpea Publishing. That got my attention, and I looked it up. It’s independent, and located in South Dakota. That makes perfect sense, given that many of his poems seem to deal with nature and rural life.

      My robins have been gone for a week or so, and the pine warblers are gone. I’ve seen the last of the coots flocking up, so they’ll be gone soon, too. I hope they don’t fly too far, too fast — from what I’ve seen of that storm system crossing the country, winter’s not quite done with us!

      1. Who couldn’t love that publishing house name?
        The birds are certainly happy. We saw a large flock of robins on the driving range across from the golf course last week – agree they are picking up the stragglers and heading out. Maybe they are lounging at another location north of us before going on? You know we’ll have a big storm just before Easter as always.
        Really enjoyed the robins’ appearance this year.

        1. I saw there’s a blizzard warning for the Panhandle tonight. I assume it’s the same system that dumped on Colorado and Wyoming. If those robins and their friends are smart (which they are, of course), they’ll linger a little longer before traveling on. Speaking of traveling on, you surely remember this one. The birds brought it to mind, but I suspect a lot of housebound folks could sing along with enthusiasm. One of these days we’ll be able to flock up, too.

    1. Common names are such fun. I remember how confused I was when I first meet the European Robin. It didn’t look like any robin I’d ever seen; then, I learned that the European and American robins are in different genera. That explains that!

    1. I like the way the stalk it’s perched on and the parallel stalks on either side form a sort of rhomboid frame, too.

      Just this morning, I discovered that Kevin Cole also has written a poem featuring an inchworm. I expect I’ll make use of it eventually. I also found that his publisher is Scurfpea Publishing in South Dakota. When I looked at that page, my immediate response was “Hmmmmm….” It might be time to tidy up a few things and get in touch with them.

  4. “Butter Butt” is a fun name. Don’t see many warblers around my home in the woods. Thought you might enjoy reading the Maine pronunciation: “wahblah.” We do have a thing about the letter “r”.

    1. I’ve always thought of that pronunciation as a Boston thing, although I suspect any similarities probably come with some differences. I was curious about which ‘wahblahs’ might be in your area, and I found this wonderful site, which lists all of your ‘common,’ ‘secretive,’ and ‘difficult’ warblers. Just skimming through all the sections made me want to head to Maine; it’s clearly even more beautiful than I’ve imagined.

  5. I can imagine a granny saying, “Run outside and see if you can see some butter butts,” but I can’t imagine her saying “Run outside and see if you can see some Audubon’s Warblers.” I vote for butter butts.

    1. We’re on the same page, Oneta. And I have a funny story about a country saying I hear occasionally that I think you’ll like. I was standing in line at a store behind two women who were telling each other stories. They were laughing and enjoying themselves, and getting just loud enough that snatches of their conversation were clear. I don’t know what the first woman said, but the second responded, “Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” I couldn’t help it — I started laughing, and so did everyone within earshot. When Tina first mentioned ‘butterbutt’ as the name for these birds, those women were the first thing that came to mind. I’ll never forget the women or the bird at this point.

  6. Such beautiful, lyrical words, so visual that I can imagine myself viewing the scene in person and filling my lungs with sweet, clean air. Much needed and appreciated!

    1. Nature’s a great healer, and even when we can’t be ‘in nature’ ourselves, memories of its beauty can be as cleansing as that air you imagined. I’m glad you enjoyed the post; thanks for saying so.

  7. I love these little darlings. They first appeared in our backyard here in Katy several years ago. Now they’re just Kool and the Gang. I have so many photos of them and never tire of watching their antics from the kitchen window. Never heard them called butter butts before. I prefer yellow rumped but their rumps aren’t the only parts to have been kissed by a golden sun.

    1. That’s right. They have those other bits of yellow that also help with identification, since the yellow rump often is obscured by feathers — especially when they’ve perched. I don’t know if any still are here, but they were fun to watch while they were with us.

  8. The Yellow-rumped Warbler comes to my backyard every year and spends at least a month in this area. I like them a lot, full of energy bird but pacific. I think poet Kevin Cole liked this birds enough, to write a poem for them. Thank you, Linda for posting it.

    1. “Full of energy but pacific” is a good description. This was the year I learned that not every bird I assume to be peaceful actually was: at least, in the case of individuals. In any battle for territory between a robin and a mockingbird, I would have bet on the mockingbird, but at least at my feeders, it was the robin who won — every time!

      I’ve ordered Cole’s book of poetry. Perhaps there will be another bird-related poem to share.

  9. It’s been so nice to hear the birds singing in the last few weeks. Lovely, coming with sun and blossoms and warming weather. I love that moniker, butter butts.

    1. They’re tuning up here, too. The cardinals and wrens are especially songful, but I expect the mockingbirds, doves, and house finches to join the chorus soon. The robins were singing their little hearts out, but they’ve left for their summer homes — lucky northerners!

      The past two days have brought some big changes here. The redbuds and tulip trees are blooming here and there, and yesterday I caught glimpses of a half-dozen new wildflowers. It’s time to stop seeing snow and ice in my mind’s eye, and get out to see what’s actually happening.

  10. I love these little warblers even though some call them butter-butts. Here in the Southern Interior, they also stay during the winter. Today, for the first time, I read all the other comments and discovered your first name, Linda. Better late than never!

    1. Oh, yes — that’s me! If I were to begin a blog today, I’d use my actual name, but when I started blogging so many years ago, it was so new, and everyone was so concerned with ‘privacy’ that screen names were common. I do have my actual name as the URL for my other blog, and now I use it freely. I’m glad you figured it out!

      It’s delightful that you know these birds, too. It makes sense, because several sites mention that they’re common in Canada’s arboreal forests. That would be you!

  11. A lovely warbler image, the myrtle as well. The last warbler I saw was a Black-and-White that dropped down near me on a forest path last year. Up here in the northeast, I don’t see them until May. They aren’t a backyard bird, you need to find the places where weary migrants like to stop.

    1. I don’t see them at my feeders, either. I have to go to a more wooded place, even though some of those places are local. About three years ago, I stopped to read all the informational placards at the Lafitte Nature Center, and one was for their wax myrtles. I didn’t think a thing about it until I started reading about this bird and learned it favors myrtle berries. That certainly explained why there were so many of the shrubs planted at Lafitte, which is known as a birding hot spot.

      1. I remember reading that the sound of dripping or running water can attract warblers to a wooded spot. They eat insects and berries, insects may be more common in wet spots.

  12. I loved the photographs! The poem was also warming. It seems that the Yellow Warbler should be found in our area. I have never been a careful bird observer, aside from the cardinals and odd blue jay in our back yard, but I will keep my eye out of Butter Butt!

    1. These are in your area, for sure. I’ve found that they’re easier to track down if I listen for them, as well as looking. Here’s a page with their songs and calls, which help to distinguish them from other active birds up in the treetops. Given your love of trees, I suspect you’ve already heard them and don’t realize it. From what I’ve read and observed, they prefer wooded areas to backyards, so keep your eyes and ears open when you’re among the trees!

    1. It is a fun, affectionate name, isn’t it? They’re not as splashy as cardinals or as in-your-face as bluejays and such, but they’re cheerful little birds — I’m glad you have them, too. That was a very interesting page you linked. I had no idea there are so many warblers; the black-throated blue warbler is quite striking!

      Cole hasn’t published a lot, and there isn’t much online, but I’ve ordered his book, and am looking forward to seeing what else he has to offer.

  13. We don’t get too many little birds in the flatlands. Too windy. The birds who dominate my personal landscape are grackles and robins and doves (oh, my!). We used to see mockingbirds, blue jays, sparrows and house finches all over the place and nary a grackle, but apparently, the grackles have inherited the earth — hereabouts, anyway.

    1. I watched as a single grackle came to my feeders this evening. He didn’t linger, and didn’t come back; I suspect he’s just checking out the neighborhood. There are a lot of them at the marina now, and I suspect they’re filling up the sloughs. I have a couple of species of what I think are sparrows in the hedges now. One of these days I’ll get serious about identifying them — but I don’t require an ID to put food out for them.

    1. Good for you! They’re quite a pretty plant. I didn’t realize until I wrote this post that some people call them Southern Bayberry. The wax from the berries can be made into candles just like that from New England Bayberry. That sounds too labor-intensive for me, but it’s an interesting connection.

  14. Yellow-rumped Warbler will be arriving here shortly. Actually most authorities have now split the two forms as separate species and the bird found here is usually referred to as Myrtle Warbler. It is very hardy and unlike most warblers that are strictly insectivorous will readily switch to berries. In fact its name derives from its preference to feed on Wax Myrtles. I will be happy to see the first one of the spring.

    1. I so enjoy reading postings like yours, that tell the continuing story of our winter birds. I like thinking of them on their migrations to their breeding grounds: their flights still seem magical to me. This afternoon, I heard Ospreys calling, and when I found them, they were so high I barely could see them: perhaps two dozen were circling in the sky. I suspect they might have been kettling. The wind had turned into the south and was strong and steady — just right to set some of our birds on their way to you.

  15. We did have many winter visitors to our birdfeeders, but I don’t know if we have any warblers in our area. Right now, I’m hearing birds twittering and singing when I venture outdoors. What a lovely sound. The poem was lovely too.

    1. Every winter, I find myself eager for the return of birdsong. This year, a mockingbird was first, then the cardinals and wrens. It’s still a little quiet here, but that will change. I’m glad you’re hearing their songs, and I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. I found myself eager to read more by Cole, and I’ll have the chance once the book I ordered arrives.

  16. I love those little Myrtle/Yellow Rumped Warblers. I haven’t seen any yet this year but that’s not to say they’re not around. I’m at work all day and may have just not been home when they’ve visited.

    We used to have a river birch in the front yard, which always seemed to have a bumper crop of aphids. That’s what drew them in the beginning. The tree died and I thought, “Well, there goes my warbler buffet.”

    Then one day, I spotted one at my mealworm feeder. The blue birds, Carolina wrens, mockingbirds etc take the whole worm but, being dried, many of the worms break up as they’re being picked at. The little warbler was having a blast with the crumbs.

    I don’t see a whole slew of them now. Not like I did when the river birch was alive and crawling with aphids. But I see them frequently at the feeder, gleaning what the larger birds leave behind.

    P.S. Wax myrtles grow everywhere here. Sadly, many current home owners consider them ‘scrub’ bushes and have them removed. They’re such a good source of food for the birds. It’s a real shame.

    1. Now that the days are getting longer, and the ‘time change’ has been accomplished, you may have more chance to see them. I think they must be moving north. I haven’t seen one in a few days, although I haven’t been out and about. The robins are gone now and the osprey are on the move. It’s not just plants that signal a change of seasons.

      It’s never occurred to me before, but I wondered whether Myrtle Beach was named for the plant. Sure enough. Here’s what the Wiki says: “Around 1900, a contest was held to name the area, and Burroughs’s wife suggested honoring the locally abundant shrub, the southern wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera). The Withers post office changed its name to “Myrtle Beach” soon afterward. It incorporated as a town in 1938 and as a city in 1957.”

      Your comment about people removing the wax myrtles made me smile. There’s been post-freeze wailing and gnashing of teeth among people who removed native plants and turned their gardens into the prototypical tropical paradise. While the palmettos stayed green, the queen palms went kaput, and all those highly-bred hibiscus and such are piles of mush and sticks, while the native wildflowers are beginning to bloom. I hate that so many lost so much, but as our gardening show gurus say: Consider well when you begin replacing!

  17. I think I have a butter butt too (but on me it has an entirely different meaning). Such a cute little bird! I loved the poem too. I also want to skip the bad news & hear only about herons.

    1. There is a rumor that too much butter can lead to butter butt in humans. On the other hand, human buttered butts are involved in one of the best conversations I’ve ever overheard. I told another reader, but I’ll do a copy and paste for you, just because I know it will make you smile:

      “I was standing in line at a store behind two women who were telling each other stories. They were laughing and enjoying themselves, and getting just loud enough that snatches of their conversation were clear. I don’t know what the first woman said, but the second responded, “Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!”

      I do love a colorful saying!

  18. As I write, it’s ‘little bird’ time at our bird feeder, Linda. Juncos, titmice, chickadees and nuthatches are dashing in, grabbing a sunflower seed and dashing away. A rosy finch settles in for the long haul. Now everybody has moved on because a Stellar jay just arrived. It’s life at the bird feeder as spring approaches. There is also a buck out in the yard who has lost his antlers. Only nubs remain and he will soon start growing this year’s set. Earlier we had several does who are bulging with babies. In a few weeks we should have a number of fawns. I’m with the poet, and your post, on celebrating nature and escaping from today’s world of constant trauma. –Curt

    1. Your woods give you a chance to see many different species than the feeder birds I get. I do have chickadees, house finches, and bluejays, though, and it won’t be long until the mockingbirds begin singing in earnest. I am glad that my possum survived the freeze. I’d seen evidence of his presence, but last week I finally saw him, and it surprised me how happy I was.

      Like you, I’m with the poet. Do you remember psychologist Eric Berne’s book Games People Play? One of the ‘games’ he described is called “Ain’t It Awful?” There are very real problems in the world, but there also are people who love to stir up the populace (or families, or friends) with accounts of Armageddon-arriving-tomorrow. I avoid those game-players as best I can. I’d far rather listen to a mouthy mockingbird.

      1. We live in a great transition zone between higher and lower elevations and between north and south, Linda. We also have the river nearby. It’s conducive to supporting a lot of birds. (An acorn woodpecker just flew in for breakfast. They are magnificent birds that have their great acorn trees nearby that are full of hundreds and possibly thousands of holes. Mom, dad, and the neighbors raise their babies communally.)

        My sense about “ain’t it awful,” is do something positive about it. Complaining accomplishes little, if anything, other than to let off steam. A walk in the woods does it so much better. I do believe we need to contribute, to do what we can to change bad situations, even if there is a little Don Quixote involved. That’s what led me to join the Peace Corps, become an environmentalist, and a health advocate. –Curt

  19. This little warbler is a sweetie. I don’t know if I’ve seen any butter butts around here, but with a nickname like that I’ll start looking into the trees with an eye to yellow.

    1. A good nickname’s great for helping us remember everything from a bird to a person. ‘Butter butt’ certainly fits, and if some birders are going to sniff in contempt — well, let them. I’d forgotten until just now that I had a friend whose husband called her “pumpkin butt.” That fit, too (!) but she loved it. It’s the affection that makes the difference, and I sure do have some affection for the butter butts.

    1. Isn’t it a pretty thing? I was pleased to capture such a nice image, where the details of more than that yellow patch are visible. Feather patterns are amazing, even on these little birds. I’m glad seeing this one brought a smile!

  20. Your image of the butter butt is outstanding, and the poem was very fitting. I looked to see what warblers had been photographed in Oklahoma, and I see there are several to be noted during migration. I’m glad you posted the link to songs and calls. I’m quite sure I have heard that call, but did not know the source. I also looked at wax myrtle in this area, and found that it grows well here. I will probably inquire with our local county extension office and find out if there is any reason I should not add it as a wildlife-friendly plant. I am always looking for native plants to add to our landscape that will feed wildlife for generations to come.

    1. Here’s a page with some details about our wax myrtle. The USDA map shows it as introduced in nearly every county in Oklahoma, so it clearly will thrive there. Birds like the berries, but it’s not preferred browse for deer. That could be good or bad, depending! There are several nature preserves and birding centers here that have planted it precisely because of the berries, and the way the birds flock to it, the choice makes sense.

      Once I listened to the warbler’s song and call, I recognized it. I was surprised that it belongs to a warbler. I expected a warbler’s song to be more musical; I’m not sure what kind of bird I thought the warbler’s call belonged to.

      1. I think the wax myrtle would do well in our “willow” area of the slough. And it could also do well in the more sandy soil nearer the old river channel. It’s interesting that it’s not considered a preferred browse for deer, and neither is the invasive privet shrub that we have growing down in the canyon (likely spread by birds or wind bringing it down from the neighborhoods to the south). A state biologist came out to help educate us about creating a better whitetail habitat on our property, and I was surprised when he advised us to eradicate the privet, claiming it was useless to whitetail. I argued that. I have seen both bucks and does hoof at the taller branches trying to get to the purple berries in fall and winter. I cut berry-laden branches for our fawns in the cold months. The shrubs provide lovely cover and shade for the deer all year long, and the birds flock to them all year long. I wonder if wax myrtles might afford the same benefits. I think I will give a plant or two a whirl and see how it works out! It’s surely worth an experiment!

    1. Indeed it does, both in the natural world and elsewhere. I can’t read Cole without thinking of Wendell Berry, or remembering this line: “Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”

  21. When I was studying British colonial history, I’d run across a “butt of wine, twice as much as a “hogshead,” and both kind of put you off wine for a while. Butter Butt seems kinda nice by comparison. You know this one:
    “Ladies & Gentlemen, Take my advice, Butter your butt, and slide on the ice.”

    1. Ha! I didn’t know that one, but it’s funny. We’ve got a saying down here that’s used to communicate sheer astonishment: “Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” I love sayings like that even more than I like our little avian butter-butt!

  22. For anyone new to birding, or even old hands, I’d recommend The Cornell Lab’s website, All About Birds. There’s a bird guide and recorded songs. If you’re not sure what bird you’re looking at, they have an ID function, wherein you describe what you’re seeing by family or shape and they offer pictures of options. The live stream bird cams are fun to watch, too.

    https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/

    1. That’s the site I most often use. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent a few (!) hours with their Sapsucker Woods cam. Have you tried the Merlin app? I use it when I’m out and about from time to time, although one issue I’ve found with it is that my description of ‘primary colors’ isn’t always the same as theirs.

      The Wild Birds Unlimited store where I get my seed has a huge screen in their store, and they stream Sapsucker Woods, too. There’s nothing quite like seeing a cardinal that’s four times its usual size — or more. Have you ever checked out that cam at night? I’ve seen flying squirrels coming to the feeders in the middle of the night. If it hadn’t been for the chat function, I wouldn’t have had a clue what I was looking at.

      1. It had never occurred to me to check the Sapsucker Woods cam at night. I watch the cams mostly when I’m on my lunch break at work.

        There’s some great nest cams at explore.org, too. Eagles, falcons, ospreys and hummingbirds.

  23. At first one might think that a bird who eats poison ivy berries is a hero. But of course they then poop out the pits all over the place which grow into more P.I. We’ve all heard the term “butter butt” which ordinarily isn’t anything we’d want said of ourselves but a bird, yeah, that’s a good name.

    1. Well, I had a friend whose nickname was a quite appropriate ‘pumpkin butt,’ so there’s that. As for poison ivy, I’m glad the birds enjoy the berries, but the stuff certainly isn’t my friend; I got into it again recently, and while it wasn’t a bad dose, it was annoying. This time, I think some might have transferred from my camera bag and strap; I know that some got onto my jeans. At least it’s almost gone — and now I know to pay attention to those pretty red, shiny baby leaves, too.

  24. What a wonderful poem!

    “This would be an ample prophecy for another year—
    This, and a promise to keep the time of their coming.”

    A lovely way to describe bird migration and the changing of seasons.

    The Yellow-rumped warblers are a personal favorite. They show up here in en masse almost overnight it seems. Many continue to South and Central America for the winter but a lot stay with our Florida sun. They are one of the few warblers who will come readily to a feeder and consume seeds, as most warblers prefer primarily bugs. We have one who has remained in the yard all winter.

    Soon, they will all disappear as suddenly as they appeared. The need to breed will lure them to the far north and we will impatiently await until around Halloween when we may once again exclaim: “Butterbutt!”

    Thank you, Linda, for sharing your beautiful images of bird and berries!

    1. I’ve received the collection of Cole’s poems I ordered, and I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t appeal. You have to love a guy who can write a poem about an inchworm, and be lyrical in the process.

      I’m sure now that many of the birds I’ve been unable to identify are warblers of one sort or another. The pine warblers were thick at the feeders this year, and I’m sure I’ve seen palm warblers, as well as these yellow-rumped. But I was astonished to find there are at least 46 warbler species in the state! I wouldn’t expect to see them all in southeast Texas, of course, but at least I know now to think ‘warbler’ when I see something flitty!

      Isn’t it funny how birds can appear and disappear as if by magic? I see it most often with the coots. It’s clear when they’re getting ready to go; their flotillas can become huge. Then, they’re gone. I usually don’t realize it’s happened until I catch myself looking around and thinking, “Where are the coots?” The answer, of course, is, “Gone.”

  25. cute nickname for a bird you rarely see…I checked in NZ we have the grey warbler which like your warbler hides high up in the canopy of a tree.

    Just this morning when I was in the kitchen, I noted a couple of “goldfinches” on the clothes line and then a few more flew to the stones by the house. I quietly opened the door, but as soon as I peeked a bit further, away they flew – about a half dozen. Have no idea what attracted them, maybe some weed seeds…

    1. Our goldfinches are here mostly in winter and early spring, and they are seed eaters. People finally have gotten smart (or maybe lazy) and leave the seed pods on the crape myrtle trees that are used in landscaping. Goldfinches seem to love them, so even people who live in formally landscaped areas get to see them. I’m told they like thistle seed (black niger) too, but when I tried that in a feeder, no birds came. I suppose birds have different tastes, just like people.

      I looked up your grey warbler, and found that some of its other names include the Māori riroriro or sometimes the teetotum or rainbird. The New Zealand bird site has links to its songs, which are charming.

    1. They really are. They’re not the most sociable birds when it comes to humans, but they seem to like their own species quite a bit. When I find flocks of them, they’re always chattering to one another.

  26. You know what, I’d seen them both in one setting. Had taken a picture of them, one white-throated, one yellow. I did some research too and found my very special locale was where the two species meet. :) Here are my pics.

    1. When I went back to that post, I realized two things: I was fixated on the robins, and I hadn’t yet learned about the two sub-species of warblers! Sure enough, there they are, and you’re lucky enough to have photographed both. It’s interesting how more information can make us more sensitive to what we’re looking at, and it’s especially cool that you live in the area where both can be found.

    1. I’m glad I finally made its acquaintance, Debbie. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, “What in the world is that flitty little bird?” Now that I know, I’m glad to share it with you!

    1. It’s a cutie, isn’t it? I was more than happy to finally get a decent photo the species. I’ve got quite a collection of out-of-focus warbler rump photos, but this is far better!

  27. That’s a very nice portrait, Linda. They don’t always sit still long enough for a photo!
    I also remember my amusement when I first learned about butter butts. They are not among the most spectacular warblers, but I find them very attractive.

    1. Tell me about them not sitting still! While they aren’t as easily identified as a cardinal or bluejay, there’s something appealing about them. Once I realized they were as plentiful in the brush as in the trees, it became easier to locate them, and once I learned to look for all those bits of yellow, it became even easier. One of my Canadian readers lives in the area where both the Myrtle and Audubon warblers can be found, and she has photos of both. Lucky woman!

      1. Colorado actually has both of the subspecies too, Linda. I think the myrtles have been expanding their range westward for a while. They used to be considered rare here, but now eBird accepts sightings without questioning them.

    1. I didn’t realize how many species of warblers there are. I’m glad that you have them, too. They’re certainly fun to watch as they go about their business. Last week, our swallows suddenly arrived, and I’ve noticed a good bit of nest-building happening. With the pecan trees leafing out, too, it’s a certainty that spring’s arrived.

    1. I’ve seen only one Oriole in my life, and that was a migrant on Galveston Island. I know there are Grosbeaks here, but I’ve never spotted one of those. More time in the woods and less at the beaches and marshes would take care of that, I suspect. I do admire those Baltimore Orioles: lucky you, to have them.

      1. The land is low along your coast but here we have tall dunes and many of those dunes have hardwood forests and nice open areas..lots of orchards actually. We get a nice parade of migratory birds here.

  28. We have warblers here in Norway too, but not the yellow-rumped variations. But the body shapes look pretty much the same. Elegant and lovely small birds. You got yourself a sweet image of the Myrtle Warbler.

    1. They are lovely birds. Once I was able to identify this species, finding a few others became easier, because of that similar shape. They’re certainly active. I can’t tell you how many blurry photos of those rumps I managed — as the birds were going the other way!

  29. Oh what a friendly visitor! I always marvel at those like you who either know upfront or do the right research to provide some bird education to your readers. We love watching birds, and have been fortunate to live in countries rich with birds and yet at the same time have little knowledge about the various species and their habitats. Love the name and the little patch of yellow on the rump….

    For the past few days we have enjoyed the repeated visits of a bright sunflower yellow bird. Your post is one of the ones that inspired us to do the research and identify it, hopefully correctly, as a yellow Oriole. Such a pretty song too.

    Ben (& Peta)

    1. I do a lot more researching than easy identifying, that’s for sure! Have you come across David Gascoigne and his blog “Travels With Birds”? He lives in Canada, is unbelievably knowledgeable about birds, and travels all around the world observing and studying. He may have been in every Central and South American country, as well as New Zealand and Australia. He not only shows photos, he provides book reviews, and so on and so forth. He’d be a great resource for you when it comes to tropical birds.

      I didn’t realize there’s a yellow Oriole. I only know the Baltimore Orioles — and I’ve only seen one of those, on Galveston Island during migration. Birds and flowers have that in common; there are multitudes of them, and every one has something to commend it!

  30. Living in NE for six years now, I so appreciate the birds, and the reappearance of the song birds lighting up my life. I’m not sure we get butter butts, but I sure would love ’em.

    I saw your comment in Ally Bean’s post. You have a way to get out of the horrible block style and stay in classic mode? I’d love to know the secret, if you’re willing to share.

    1. I’d be happy to share the tips, which I picked up from others. I edited out your email address, but have it saved, and I’ll get in touch later today. I hope I can help you out. There’s not much that equals the joy of a chorus of song birds — unless it’s the chirping of a happy WordPress user!

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