Small mysteries resolved - and a new bird encountered in the chaparral

Vermivora celata. Image is from Las Pilitas:
I'm pretty stoked! It's a beginning birder sort of stokedness... Sitting outside in the mornings, I watch and listen. I sit in the garden, at the top of the chaparral slope. Lately I've been wondering: what's that warbling, descending in about a major or minor third, repeating. And what's that little olive green bird?

It follows the bushtits, gleaning insects from the underside of leaves and crevices in the shrubs. I have photos of the bushtits, but not the little olive bird. I took these the other day while sitting in the same spot. They move fast and acrobatically - so it's hard to get photos of them, even though there are at least thirty in a flock. They pass over the chaparral shrubs like a softly twittering cloud:

Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus 

Bushtit on manzanita

Bushtit on Toyon

Cotton ball - no wait - Bushtit! on toyon

Bushtit on coyote brush

Sweet little bushtit
I was thinking: Maybe the warble is a junco with an interesting change of pitch? Maybe the green bird is a warbling vireo?

Not till I asked Randy Morgan, experienced birder and legendary naturalist, while on a recent field trip did I get ahead in my search. Olive green, I told him, with a pale eyebrow marking:

"Oh - Could be an orange crowned warbler," he said.

"'Twas not orange," said I.

"Well, you wouldn't actually see the orange!" quoth he.

"Well, then... how is a person to know?
" I wondered.

But today I saw not only the little green bird and saw him open his beak and go (using the sol-fa notation) "Meee-Doh" over and over ---- But also I SAW the orange crown!  Orange crowned warbler, Vermivora celata! What a little beauty! How dare they call him "drab!"

I just love it when these frustrating little mysteries are so wonderfully resolved. And now when I hear that descending warble I know - oh, he's just down the hill there. Sigh of pleasure!


Interesting, I'm not sure I've seen one of those here, although I have seen some Wilson's Warblers. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.
Jason said…
Only birders pure of heart can see the orange crown! Enjoy your birding. One thing I've done is get a CD on bird song and listen to it in the car to improve my ability to identify birds by ear.
Country Mouse said…
Aw, that's a nice thought, Jason, thanks. I'll try to live up to that! I have a book with bird songs - The Backyard Birdsong Guide, by Donald Kroodsma. it's like a grownup version of a kids book with sounds. A cd for the car is a good idea too. I'll look into that. Or maybe something I can download to my iPhone.

Farm woman, I've never seen a Wilson's Warbler - I just looked it up. It's so interesting how parochial the birds are.
Diana Studer said…
lovely to pair up a new name and face, for the wildlife in our gardens.
Rylahn said…
WOOOW! Great capture..