110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Sep 3, 2013 - 8:36:52am
Palm warblers prefer hopping and walking on the ground to flying! They usually travel in small flocks, and their smorgasbord is mosquitoes, flies, small beetles and gnats found in grassy areas. For dessert, they dine on berries.
Oh, we humans understand now why so many bugs are out there — they are food for you warblers and many other feathered friends! Bon appétit!
As I watched four of these 5.5-inch birds on the grass at a park, I hoped that one would pose for me. Well, to my surprise, one hopped up onto a fence post and seemed to grant my wish! Maybe it was easier to seek bugs from a different angle than on the ground. With its 8-inch wingspan and its weight of only .36 ounce, the round-winged little cutie just looked so happy as it moved quickly in the warm sunshine.
This warbler has brown feathers above and pale yellow feathers below. It also has white "eyebrows" above its brown eyes. It has a thin, brown, pointed bill and dark legs.
Constant tail-wagging is the palm warbler's distinctive feature. But at breeding time, which is April through August, the warbler's appearance changes, as is true for most birds. The brown crown of its head changes to brown-orange, and matching colored stripes adorn the beautiful neck, chest and belly. The subdued yellow becomes bright-colored, and it's obvious to all the other palm warblers that mating time has arrived!
Palm warblers build their nests on or close to the ground at the base of a bush or tree in a swampy area. Their open cup nests are made from grass and shreds of bark, and are lined with feathers and pieces of roots. The female lays four to five eggs, and both parents incubate them for only 12 days — then they hatch.
These warblers live along the eastern coast of North America, in bogs in the summer and in weedy, brush fields and marsh areas during migration. They love Florida during cool months. Their "song" is merely a constant, soft trill.
More than 40 kinds of warblers live in North America, and more than half of them can be found in Florida. But it takes an expert to identify each kind! I must confess that I always double-check with a pro when I get a photo of one, since they are so tricky to identify.
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at email@example.com.
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