Warblers and Wildflowers

I had a busy week at work, but I was able to visit Hurdman Park on the Friday before the Victoria Day long weekend. The day started out warm and sunny, but thickening clouds made photography difficult well before I was ready to head back to work.

I started my visit with a walk along the feeder path where I encountered a couple of different warblers foraging in the tree tops. A plain yellowish warbler with dark wings, white wingbars and gray feet was later identified as a female Bay-breasted Warbler; the warbler singing “Wheat-a, wheat-a, we-teach-you” turned out to be a Magnolia Warbler. Of course, the familiar songs of Yellow Warblers and American Redstarts seemed to follow me wherever I went!

While walking down the path, I noticed a small bird bathing in a large puddle on the path. Although wet and bedraggled, it was clearly another Magnolia Warbler!

Magnolia Warbler

These warblers breed in small conifers, particularly young spruces, in either coniferous or mixed forest. Their breeding range encompasses the Ottawa region, and they are known to breed in Gatineau Park. Originally called the “Black-and-yellow Warbler”, this small, handsome bird was first collected in 1810 from a magnolia tree in Mississippi. The collector, Alexander Wilson, used “magnolia” for the Latin species name, which became the common name over time. I prefer the name “Magnolia Warbler” to “Black-and-yellow Warbler” as many different warbler species (Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, and Wilson’s, for example) have varying degrees of black and yellow, and “Magnolia” gives the bird its own unique identity.

There were few other species of note along the feeder path, but these wild strawberries caught my attention:

Wild strawberries

I also noticed this tiny moth perching on a leaf and was taken with its unique colouration. It stayed put long enough for me to take a few macro shots before flying away.

Moth sp.

These small purple flowers were abundant along the trail. Ground ivy is considered a weed in Ontario, especially in the southern part where it infests gardens, roadsides, waste areas, pastures, open woods and occasionally edges of cultivated fields. I think their flowers are quite beautiful, myself, and often see tiny insects nectaring on them.

Ground Ivy

In the woods at the back of the trail I encountered another small group of warblers. This group included a couple of American Redstarts, a gorgeous male Black-throated Blue Warbler, a stunning Blackburnian Warbler, and – a year bird for me – a singing Northern Parula! The parula stayed too high in the canopy to photograph, and the Black-throated Blue Warbler didn’t stay still long enough to get any decent images. Only the redstart was kind enough to pose for me.

American Redstart

I also heard a Black-throated Green Warbler singing from somewhere among the leaves, bringing the total number of warbler species observed up to eight. Other birds seen (or heard) on my walk included Gray Catbird, one more Magnolia Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, a Least Flycatcher, a couple of cardinals, and a single Blue Jay flying over. None would cooperate for a photo, so I contented myself with photographing a few of the numerous trees in blossom:


More blossoms

This is one of my favourite times of year, for I never know what birds or species of interest I’ll find on any given outing, and the trees this time of year are not only gorgeous, but smell heavenly, too. With such beauty blossoming all around, what more could any nature enthusiast want?

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