Dad and I got back this weekend from a three day trip to Rondeau Provincial Park to take in the spring (warbler) migration. Now that’s not to say that we didn’t see anything else other than warblers—that was hardly the case—but no other family of birds has managed to capture Eastern North American birdwatchers’ attention (and admiration and love) like the Parulidae family.
Why? That’s a good question. I suspect because wood-warblers are small (a.k.a. cute); relatively colourful (you can’t beat the “safety cone” orange of this Blackburnian); have interesting life histories; and species-wise, they provide enough of a challenge to get to know all of them.
The Wood-warblers are (typically speaking) insect-eaters that nest in intact wooded areas (I’m talking your typical forest here—deciduous or coniferous, it depends on the species) and migrate great distances from their Northern summer range to their winter ranges (places where their food is still active & alive). So, in our minds it a geographic thing—they migrate; moving in time and place from point A to point B. I would imagine, however, that in their minds, they’re following the food. For them, they’re riding the top of a climatic crest, if you will, where at the apex they find the most food.
In this sense spring migration isn’t geographic—it’s biotic—the confluence of the earth’s northern hemisphere pointing more and more toward the sun; the emergence from dormancy of ecosystems; the swarming of insects; the movement of birds.