Wednesday, 25 February 2015

B.O.T.D. Nashville Warbler

B.O.T.D. Feb 25, 2015

Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla)

Alexander Wilson, who discovered this species near Nashville, Tennessee, in 1811, saw but three specimens in his lifetime. John James Audubon, during his long and well-travelled career, chanced upon only four. Yet by 1879 another eminent ornithologist, John Krider, reported the bird to be "very abundant as far as Minnesota." What had happened? A great deal, as Americans moved west, clearing forests, cultivating the land, then abandoning it. Today, the Nashville warbler is a common resident of second-growth northland woodlands and spruce bogs, its ground nest hidden in grass beneath low brush or nestled within some snug, mossy nook.
In its primary haunts, below a shaded canopy, the bird's bray-green plumage is muted. Were it not for bright, active song and an unquenchable restlessness, the Nashville would hardly warrant any attention at all. But catch one in the open, in a shaft of sunlight leaking through the leaves, or against the raven-green of a wall of spruce, and its plumage comes alive. Yellow underparts gleam, the love back ripples with hidden colour, and the pearl-gray head makes a perfect completion to the overall design.

During migration, the Nashville warbler my be found over much of North America in a variety of settings. It can even be found in the parks and gardens of the city after which it was named, though it appears there only in transit, passing through with the changing of the seasons.