Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Warbler Wave

Warblers are amazing little birds. They comprise one of the largest groups of birds in North America, with more than 50 species identified and considered common to the United States and Canada. They are perching songbirds with plumage that can range from browns and grays to rich yellows, oranges, and greens. While they are found in almost every habitat, they can be difficult to identify because of the color variations, their size, and their swift flitting from branch to branch, often in dense foliage. Because of their size and coloring, birders often refer to them as LBBs (little bitty bird or little brown birds), or, with disappointment, "gone bird."

In Warbler Wave, April Pulley Sayre shares the wonders of these tiny birds with young readers using over-sized photographs composed to give the reader the feeling that they are actually out in the field birding. With the photographs Sayre adds poetically phrased information about the warbler's habits, plumage, diet, and song. The book opens with photographs from the middle of the night, letting the reader know that tiny wings are migrating to find food. With daylight, the reader enjoys seeing these birds in various situations until, as night falls, the birds continue on their migration, "Surfing rivers of wind way up high.../calling zeep, zeep, zeep in the sky."
(Inside page, copyright April Pulley Sayre)

Sayre acknowledges that the photographs are not intended to be of the type used in field guides (where illustrations clearly show markings and features that distinguish one species from another), but the crisp, clear photographs will help armchair birders feel inspired to go outside and find these birds. While guides help with identification, they are usually drawings as it is almost impossible to get photographs that perfectly whos all the important features. In that way, Warbler Wave is also closer to the real experience faced by birders--trying to identify from a wisp of color, a side view, and the tail shape as it flits away.

Four pages of back story provide plenty of additional information about warblers and their habits, as well as information on the Spring migration, which generally begins in late March and runs through May. Her website, provides specific identification notes and discussion for the birds included in the book. But don't let the simple format fool you; while the book is great for young birders, it is packed with enough information to appeal to birders of any age.

Black-throated warbler
My photos don't begin to compare with those by April Pulley Sayre but I did want to share one from Rockport. These LBBs are hard to find and birders love to share a good catch!