Warbler Week

I hope you enjoyed Warbler Week. If you did (or even if you didn’t), please consider doing something to help out these birds. Here are a few suggestions.

Perhaps the main thing you can do is to purchase shade-grown coffee. Yes, it really is that important. Anything with the Smithsonian “Bird Friendly” seal you can know with certainty will by 100% shade-grown, organic coffee.

The American Bird Conservancy does some fantastic work on the behalf of warblers (and all the other birds as well). Please consider donating to them. What’s more, until June 20, all donations (I don’t think memberships count) will be matched by private donors, up to $100,000. This is a great way to make your donation go even further.

Finally, here are some organizations that are working to protect the Appalachian region, home to the Cerulean Warbler. This bird is declining very rapidly, largely due to habitat loss on its breeding grounds. (Thanks to Cynthia Ellis for the links.)

As I was kicking around ideas for today’s Warbler Week post, I thought about doing one on my favorite warbler book. But I realized there was a problem with that…I didn’t know what it was. Just as I can’t single out one particular warbler as my favorite, there are too many warbler books to pick just one.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of warbler books, I think of identification guides. There are several such guides, but at least among this group I do have a clear-cut favorite – A Field Guide to Warblers of North America, in the Peterson field guide series.

Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol 15But the granddaddy of all warbler books, even though it doesn’t focus exclusively on them, just might be Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 15: Weavers to New World Warblers. It covers all of the world’s wood-warblers, and has some of the best photos you’ll ever see of them. If I needed to find out something about warblers, this is the first place I’d look. However, it’s not cheap. If you’d like to have a book that contains all the warblers (not just the North American representatives) without having to take out another mortgage, then there is Warblers of the Americas: An Identification Guide. It’s a little old now, and from what I understand the text may not be the best. But I think the art is great.

The Warblers of America, by Alexander Sprunt, Jr.Speaking of old books, there are also the classic warbler texts by Frank Chapman and Alexander Sprunt, Jr. Chapman’s The Warblers of North America, first published in 1907, features art by the legendary Louis Agassiz Fuertes. The text, however, seems dry and straight-to-the-point. In contrast, The Warblers of America (1957 and updated in 1979) by Sprunt is much more readable and also contains essays by other ornithologists (such as “The Resident Warblers of the West Indies”, by James Bond (whom the fictional spy was named after)). The color plates aren’t the best, but have a charm to them. Of the two, I have to say that I prefer Sprunt.

Chasing WarblersBut if I had to pick, Chasing Warblers, by Vera and Bob Thornton, just might be my favorite. In it, the authors describe their quest to photograph all of the nesting warblers of the U.S. and Canada. I read this book a long time ago, back when I had been birding for less than a year and had seen only a handful of these birds. It was thrilling to read about all these warblers that I also hoped to see some day. I’m curious to see if it holds up for me now that I’ve seen most of them. But there’s no doubt that the Thornton’s photos are still fantastic!

So what about you, what’s your favorite warbler book?


Warbler Week at The Birder's Library This post is a part of Warbler Week – a celebration of warblers in print and other media.

A Field Guide to Warblers of North AmericaI reviewed A Field Guide to Warblers of North America, in the Peterson guide series, a while ago. Actually, it was one of the initial reviews posted when I started this site. Well, I hesitate to call it a “review” – it was just a few short paragraphs with no images. But I’ve remedied that now.

If you don’t already have this guide (and if you’re a birder in North America, you should), check out the new and improved review of A Field Guide to Warblers of North America.


Warbler Week at The Birder's Library This post is a part of Warbler Week – a celebration of warblers in print and other media.

No, I’m not referring to some creation by ILM similar to some of the “birds” in The Big Year movie. Rather, this is about warblers in digital media. These birds are featured in all kinds of books, but are sadly underrepresented in the digital realm. In fact, I’m only aware of two items: a set of DVDs and an iPhone app.

Watching Warblers Watching Warblers West Watching Warblers
Watching Warblers West

These two DVDs from Birdfilms almost single-handedly make up for the lack of warblers in digital media with their exceptional quality. Together, these two films feature all the breeding warblers of the United States and Canada. The video footage is simply amazing and looks spectacular on these discs. But not only are these a feast for the eyes, you’ll also learn a good bit about the birds as well.

If you like warblers, you’ll love these DVDs. For more details, here is my full review of Watching Warblers and Watching Warblers WEST.


birdJam HeadsUp Warblers birdJam HeadsUp Warblers

HeadsUp Warblers is an app for the Apple family of mobile devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) dedicated to North American warblers. It includes some beautiful photos (although not enough to cover the entire spectrum of warbler plumages), but really shines in the audio department, as would be expected from birdJam. Each species has multiple sound clips and a nice feature makes it easy to compare birds by song type.

However, as nice as some of the features are, I’m not sure it provides enough value to recommend it in addition to a general field guide app. Full review of birdJam HeadsUp Warblers.


If you know of any other “digital warblers”, I’d love to hear about them.

Warbler Week at The Birder's Library This post is a part of Warbler Week – a celebration of warblers in print and other media.

Warbler Week at The Birder's Library

I love warblers. If you’re a birder I could stop right there, for the reasons why are obvious to you and no further explanation is needed. But if you have no idea what I’m talking about, the warblers are a family of small, insectivorous songbirds found in the Americas (sometimes called New World warblers or wood-warblers to differentiate them from the unrelated warblers of the Old World). Very few warblers will visit bird feeders, and most of them remain hidden in the upper reaches of trees or within thick vegetation. This means that, unless you’re actively looking for them, you are unlikely to see one. And that’s a shame, because many of them are absolute stunners! For my money, warblers – as a group – are the most attractive birds in North America.

But flashy good looks aren’t nearly the only reason to love warblers. This is an extremely interesting and diverse group of birds. One is among North America’s rarest birds and many others are in trouble. Most undertake amazing migrations every year. Many are hard to find, and can be difficult to identify once you do (which only serves to increase birders’ desire for them).

Overall, this is just a great group of birds; one worth celebrating. And since it is currently the peak of warbler migration throughout much of North America, I thought now would be a good time to do it. This week, The Birder’s Library will present some warbler-related reviews and posts. I hope you enjoy them almost as much as the birds themselves.