Monday, March 23, 2015

The First Spring Warblers Arrive

I visited the Harrisburg Road Sports Complex property yesterday specifically to look for early returning Louisiana waterthrushes. This species is usually the first warbler to come back to their nesting territories in the spring. They don't need to wait for the foliage to come out because they do not get their food by gleaning insects off foliage. They instead wade right into the shallow portions of creeks and streams, turning over leaves and other debris to find aquatic invertebrates.

I walked a section of Reedy Creek and almost immediately heard the clear, ringing song of the waterthrush. March 22 is the earliest I have ever heard the song.

Another reason I was glad to hear it is that Louisiana waterthrushes are indicators of a healthy stream.

Louisiana waterthrushes are persistent singers in early spring. Listen for them along streams in deciduous woodlands.

Louisiana Waterthrush by Jeff Lewis
Louisiana Waterthrush by Jeff Lewis

I also heard a report of a Northern parula warbler from Six-Mile Creek Greenway. This is another early spring warbler but I was not expecting them to be back this early. Usually its around March 30 when I hear the first one. Six-Mile Creek is a reliable location for them from now until September. Listen for their rapid buzzy song that slides up the scale.
Listen to it here:
Northern Parula by Jeff Lewis