Friday, October 12, 2012

"Fri-D" - Fall Female Warblers

[Cape May Warblers, first-year female (brighter than some first years) in the foreground and adult male in the background, September 29, 2012 in Cape May Point, NJ. Note the fish hook around the cheek on both. Click to enlarge.]

The confusing fall warblers are often females, especially first fall females. Female warblers in general usually look like muted versions of spring males, and in fall, they look especially muted, and if they're first years, even more so. For example, first fall Cape May Warbler females often show no yellow at all, so the one above is a nice one!

A helpful fact is that if you know the male patterns, you can look for the same patterns on females, only expect them to be subtle. The drabbest female Cape Mays may not have yellow, but they at least have the pale "fish hook" that goes under the cheek and around the back of the neck, a muted version of the strong yellow seen on adult males.

The neckband on Magnolia Warbler, the gray head and eyering on Nashville, the dark irregularly-shaped cheek on Blackburnian, the yellow face on Black-throated Green. . . all examples of features present on adult males that show, however subtly, on fall females.

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