Orange Crowned Warbler

Orange Crowned Warbler ~ Vermivora celata
It's always exciting to see a new bird species, especially in your own landscape. The colorful and amazing wood warblers are on their way northwards to their breeding grounds, and in Minnesota we're lucky to have so many stop through for a short while.

We first saw this warbler in the third week of April searching for insects in the willow catkins at a local park. An early appearance, most warblers stop by in early May. The Orange Crowned Warbler does not have any really distinguishing features that are a slam dunk for identification. It's olive to yellow in color, sometimes with faint streaks down the breast.

When reviewing my photos, I did notice the dark stripe through the eye which helped in the identification. The dark stripe 'breaks' the yellow eye ring.

"Males are slightly brighter than females and have a larger patch of orange (usually concealed) on the crown." (Peterson Field Guides, Warblers) The orange 'crown' is evident in this photo.

These warblers have been exclusively picking through our Red Elderberries (Sambucus rubra) searching for insects in the flower buds. It's the first year we've seen them in the yard, as many of the Elderberries that we planted have matured and have several flower buds.

This warbler behavior illustrates to me the important relationship between planting native plants local to your area to support bird populations. The native Elderberries are providing much needed nourishment (through insects) for these migrating warblers who are travelling such large distances.

What wood warblers are migrating through your area?