Blackburnian WarblerDendroica fusca (Muller)
Status Uncommon in summer. Breeds. It generally arrives around mid-May (average 14 May, earliest 7 May). During the breeding season, this species is uncommon on the mainland but seen more often on Cape Breton Island. Fall movements have been noted from late August to early October, with latest records generally in October (average 13 October, latest 26 November). Stragglers have been seen on Cape Sable on 14 December 1959, in Yarmouth on 24 December 1969, and in Halifax on 1 December 1973. It is a bird of woodland regions, especially where there are tall spruces or hemlocks, although it may be seen anywhere during migration.
Description Length: 13-14 cm. Adult male: Orange stripe through crown; orange band from base of bill, passing above eye to side of neck; throat and breast rich orange; area about eye, back of head, nape, large area of back, and tail black; back has two whitish or buff streaks; outer tail feathers white at base; wing coverts show a white patch; lower breast and belly light buff, lightly streaked with black. Adult female: Similar but paler, the colours being diffused and orange being replaced by yellow on breast and face.
Breeding Nest: A rather frail structure of fine twigs and grass or weed stems, with lining of fine rootlets. It is usually saddled on a horizontal branch of a large or medium sized conifer out near the end and fairly high in the tree. Eggs: 4; grayish white, well spotted with various shades of brown, chiefly around the larger end. A typical nest was found by Harold F. Tufts at Black River, Kings County, on 16 June 1905 about 10 m up and saddled well out on the limb of a large spruce in woods of heavy mixed growth.
Range Breeds from central Alberta, central Ontario, southern Quebec, and Cape Breton Island, south to southeastern New York State, southern Ontario, central Minnesota and in the mountains to western Georgia. Winters mainly in Central and South America.
Remarks Many species of warblers occur in Nova Scotia and most are brightly coloured. From time to time the question is raised as to which is the most beautiful. Those who know them all in life, and have seen a male Blackburnian in spring plumage, the sun glinting on his flaming throat and breast, with his contrasting colours perhaps against a background of gray poplar buds bursting into leaf, must admit that he merits a place near the top of the list. His song, however, is not in keeping with his fine feathers, for it is little more than a thin, high-pitched, wiry trill, ending with a distinctive twitter.
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