Birds – Wilson’s Warbler

(Sylvania pusilla) Wood Warbler family

Called also : BLACKCAP ; GREEN BLACK-CAPPED WARBLER ; WILSON’S FLYCATCHER

Length-4.75 to 5 inches. About an inch and a half shorter than the English sparrow.

Male—Black cap ; yellow forehead ; all other upper parts olive-green ; rich yellow underneath.

Female—Lacks the black cap.

Range—North America, from Alaska and Nova Scotia to Panama. Winters south of Gulf States. Nests chiefly north of the United States.

Migrations—May. September. Spring and autumn migrant.

To see this strikingly marked little bird one must be on the sharp lookout for it during the latter half of May, or at the season of apple bloom, and the early part of September. It passes north-ward with an almost scornful rapidity. Audubon mentions having seen it in Maine at the end of October, but this specimen surely must have been an exceptional laggard.

In common with several others of its family, it is exceedingly expert in catching insects on the wing ; but it may be known as no true flycatcher from the conspicuous rich yellow of its under parts, and also from its habit of returning from a midair sally to a different perch from the one it left to pursue its dinner. A true flycatcher usually returns to its old perch after each hunt.

To indulge in this aerial chase with success, these warblers select for their home and hunting ground some low woodland growth where a sluggish stream attracts myriads of insects to the boggy neighborhood. Here they build their nest in low bushes or upon the ground. Four or five grayish eggs, sprinkled with cinnamon-colored spots in a circle around the larger end, are laid in the grassy cradle in June. Mr. H. D. Minot found one of these nests on Pike’s Peak at an altitude of 11,000 feet, almost at the limit of vegetation. The same authority compares the bird’s song to that of the redstart and the yellow warbler.