A butterfly of the bird world

In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks

– John Muir

The month of May brings a mixture of wonderful migrants to our area and I always look forward to getting outdoors with my camera and binoculars as one never knows what one will see.

I was in Ouray at Box Canon Park on May 22 and saw many different species of birds at the feeders. Both noisy Grosbeaks were filling up on black-oil sunflower seeds. Pine Siskins and Cassin’s Finches were enjoying niger seeds from hanging sox and a couple of hummingbirds drank sugar water out of a glass container.

I decided to walk the short trail around the building and found the best was yet to come! My binoculars focused on a small, gray bird with a complete eye-ring. He sported yellow highlights on his chest and under his rump. It was difficult to keep up with him as he was hopping through the scrub oaks and brushy areas. At times he would wag his tail up and down. I finally got a good enough look and identified my bird as a Virginia’s Warbler, also called the butterfly bird.

The bird would stop at times and looked like he was feeding on insects, his main source of food. On the go, he would stop for a second from bush to bush. The serviceberry and chokecherry bushes were blooming and smelling so sweet, and it looked like he was finding insects to eat on them.

Finally, the bird probably had enough of me watching him and decided to fly out of my sight.

To my surprise, I checked my records and saw a Virginia’s Warbler was seen in the same area in Box Canon before. Yes, I remember that!

This warbler can nest here, but it has one of the most difficult nests to find of all the other ground-nesting warblers. I don’t have much hope in finding a nest unless I am lucky.

These birds build nests on or in the ground, commonly embedded in dead leaves and often hidden by overhanging grass. They build nests out of strips of inner bark, grass stems, roots and mosses.

The female will lay 3 to 5 eggs between May and June at an elevation of 6,000 to 8,000 feet. In the fall after nesting, the Virginia’s Warblers will leave their summer breeding areas, flying at night to their winter home in Southwest Mexico.

The Virginia’s Warbler occupies a small area in the western part of the United States and is considered a species of conservation concern.

Hal H. Harrison, a photographer and famous writer on warblers, is the person who nicknamed these birds the “butterflies of the bird world.”

He had a special affinity for warblers and wrote that all warblers are special and important. He considered them refreshing, redeeming and needful to the human spirit, stating without warblers, the world would be colorless and a silent place.

THE FOLLOWING BIRDS WERE SIGHTED IN OURAY COUNTY MAY 2022: Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Dusky Grouse*, Wild Turkey, Western Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret**, White-faced Ibis*, Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Golden Eagle, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt*, American Avocet*, Greater Yellowlegs*, Spotted Sandpiper, Willet*, Least Sandpiper*, Band-tailed Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Great Horned Owl, Black Swift*, Black -chinned Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Cordilleran Flycatcher*, Dusky Flycatcher*, Western Wood PeWee,* Ash-throated Flycatcher*, Warbling Vireo *, Steller’s Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Pinyon Jay, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Common Raven, Tree Swallow*, Violet Green Swallow*, Pygmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren*, American Dipper, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher , Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, Townsend’s Solitaire, Mountain Bluebir d, Western Bluebird, Gray Catbird*, Cedar Waxwing, Virginia’s Warbler**, Grace’s Warbler**, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s), Green-tailed Towhee, Vesper Sparrow*, Savannah Sparrow**, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed), Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Rose-breasted Grosbeak**, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Bullock’s Oriole, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Rosy-Finch (Brownapped ), Cassin’s Finch, House Finch, Evening Grosbeak.

NOTE: Failed to mention Northern Mockingbird sighted on April 29. *Shorebird passing through early May, Snowy Egret-2 records of May 17. Black Swifts spotted May 22, Flycatchers Swallows, Vireo, Sparrows, other migrants returned (Virginia’s Warbler & Grace’s Warbler good sightings, Rose-breasted Grosbeak seen 5-29.

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