Thursday, May 24, 2012

Murmuring Trees

“Trees, trees, murmuring trees!” Through closed windows on a chilly morning I hear the welcome song of an old friend. It is followed by an emphatic chant from deeper in the forest. “Teacher. Teacher! TEACHER. TEACHER!” And then a buzzy, upward-trending “Parrrrrrrrula.” I catch a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, and then hear the squeaky "wee-see-wee-see-wee-see" of yet another neighbor.

The warblers are back! Warblers are a group of active little birds that are often colorful, insectivorous, and (as their name suggests) vocal. They spend the winter in exotic locales to the south, and travel thousands of miles on their tiny wings just to raise their young in the Northwoods. You may be wondering what attracts them all the way up here from sunny Mexico and Costa Rica. Are you reading this on your deck? Then the answer may be sucking your blood or buzzing in your ear at this very moment.

Blackflies. Mosquitoes. The warblers come here for the feast. Moths, wasps, bees, caterpillars, larvae of all kinds, leaf beetles, bark beetles, weevils, ants, aphids (and their honeydew), caddisflies, craneflies, mayflies, stoneflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, locusts, and gnats. During outbreaks of pests like the spruce budworm, warblers become rainbow-colored exterminators.

Could we please have a resounding “Thank You!” for the warblers?  Let us put them on a pedestal with spiders and bats and thank them all for eating insects.

Not only do warblers eat insects, but they look and sound delightful while doing it. For those of you who are curious, the bird songs mentioned at the beginning belong to, in order, Black-throated Green Warblers, Ovenbirds, Northern Parulas, and Black-and-white Warblers.

If you would like to learn more, there are plenty of opportunities every spring at the Chequamegon Bay Birding and Nature Festival. There are over 100 activities and field trips planned for birders and nature lovers of all skills and ages. Check out the field trips and register at

No comments:

Post a Comment