Life Lists and Warblers

By Dave Hanks

Most serious birders keep a “Life List”. This list includes species described in bird field guides – i.e. “The Birds of North America” (USA and Canada). Also, if the birder travels worldwide, the list would include those species seen in foreign countries. List rules require: a good look at the species, where first seen, and the date seen. This can become a competition, and many travel long distances to add to their list. The internet has bird “Hot Lines” of where rare species have been spotted – both nationally and statewide. Idaho has one that people can chat on and tell what they’ve seen and where they’ve seen it.

I started out keeping a life list but quit a long time ago. I enjoy all birds (common ones as much as rare ones), but especially those that I can get close enough to photograph. We do record the birds, mammals, and sometimes the plants we see when we go on a photo junket. We also have kept a farm list and have recorded 109 bird species, plus mammals, over the years since we started. Lists do several things – they increase and solidify your knowledge and make each junket more interesting.

The United States has 55 species of warblers. Most of this number lives in the eastern half of our country. This group consists of small insectivorous birds – most have some form of yellow coloration and they rarely sit still, as they are constantly flitting through the surrounding vegetation. One warbler that we find quite interesting is the NORTHERN PARULA. It is seldom seen in Idaho, but when it is spotted, it is usually reported on Idaho’s IBLE website and causes a great deal of excitement to find it. If, on the other hand, they wanted to add it to their life list, they simply need to take a trip to Texas and South Padre Island. It is very common there during the spring migration.

The Northern Parula Warbler is a tiny, short tailed bird, gray-blue above with yellowish-green upper back and two bold white wing bars. Its throat and breast are bright yellow. Both sexes have a broken white eye ring, but the male has reddish and black bands across his breast.

This dainty bird has the unusual habit of nesting in the Spanish moss that can be seen hanging from large trees in the South.

(A Parula caught sitting still)