I promise this is my last photo of a yellow-rumped warbler for, well, a while at least. If I manage to photograph a warbler other than a yellow-rumped warbler, I’ll post that, but no more yellow-rumps for a while. I like this photo because it’s very much how I see warblers in the woods. The little jewels blend in with the sun-dappled leaves so well that they are difficult to see, even when they do sit still, which isn’t often. Warblers are rather leaf-shaped and leaf-sized themselves, and I usually find I can just barely see enough of one through the leaves to make an identification.
A few warbler species are quite distinctive, and I don’t need to see much of one to know what they are—redstarts are like that. They are mostly black with orange (or red) on the wings and tails. Once you see a flash of those colors, the choices for an identification are pretty limited. Other warbler species are more difficult and I have to see more or most of the bird to identify it. Some species are easily identifiable if you see a particular part of it. The colors on a bay-breasted warbler or a chestnut-sided warbler are pretty distinctive shades and a quick glimpse of that shade is all it takes.
Warbler identification is made more difficult because the little dickens spend most of their time high up amongst the leaves of trees, flitting quickly from one spot to another. "Warbler neck," caused by standing for hours with your head craned upwards is a common affliction of birders. No wonder, then, that birders prize a warbler hot spot where they are up on a hill looking down into treetops below. There aren’t many of those.
Getting your binoculars onto one of these little gems isn’t easy, either. Even the standard birders’ skill of keeping your eye on the bird while you raise your binoculars doesn’t always work. By the time the binoculars are raised, the bird is gone already.
But when you do manage to get binoculars on them and when you do get a good view, unobstructed by leaves—ah, what a thrill. These little beauties are well worth the effort.