Monday, April 4, 2016

The Black -throated Green Warbler visits Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast here in Northwest Indiana in the spring. Easy to identify both by sight and by voice, the black-throated green warbler brings spring, summer, and fall cheer to many birders. Listen for its wheezy-zee zoo zee or zee zee zee zoo zee song. Both the male and female black-throated greens are colorful and easy to identify. This bird often appears in trees high above your head, but even a quick side or belly view reveals important identification clues, such as the bright yellow head framed from below by sharply contrasting black on the breast (and throat on the male) and from above by olive green. The sides are streaked in black and the birds sport two white wing bars. They also have a yellow bar that runs across their white under-tails, or vents. The warbler breeds primarily in coniferous and mixed forest from as far as British Colombia, east through the Northwest, and down into the Appalachians. A few winter in southern Florida but most migrate to Mexico and Central America. During migration black-throated green warblers are among the most conspicuous migrant warblers, actively foraging along woodland edges. While nesting black-throated green warblers eat insects, particularly caterpillars, they capture prey by snatching it from leaves but also by hovering at the tips of branches to locate and grab insects. During migration poison ivy berries are among the fruits eaten. There are plenty here at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast to our dismay but to the warbler's delight! Male and female black throated green warblers share nest building duties, making a cup of grassy stems and twigs, spider webs, and bark which they line with softer materials such as feathers. This construction may take up to eight days and the female seems to choose the nest site, which is frequently between three to nine feet off the ground in a conifer, where two or more branches meet the trunk. Only the female incubates the four eggs, usually for 12 days. The eggs are grayish or whitish drizzled with reddish brown markings. Females feed the young initially, joined after a number of days by the male. Young leave the nest after about 11 days, following one of the parents for about a month. During migration the black-throated green warbler flies in flocks with chickadee and titmouse. We would love to have you come to Songbird Prairie here in Northwest Indiana to see all of these marvelous birds. The apple trees are in full bloom the  last week of April around the windows of the sunroom. Pansy faces greet you as you come up the walk as well as daffodils and bleeding heart. Bring your walking shoes and binoculars!

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