Foam Lake Birding No. 89

No. 89
The weather finally seems to have improved, at least for the time being. Now that I can go outside and actually spend some time there, I took a count of the birds nesting in our yard and there are nine, yes nine, different species of birds nesting in our yard. In alphabetical order they are: Brewer's Blackbird, Brown Headed Cowbird, Chipping Sparrow, House Sparrow, House Wren, Purple Martin, Robin, Tree Swallow and Yellow Warbler. Although, the Cowbird is a parasite and does not nest at all, I spotted several females searching through the shrubbery looking for other birds' nests to lay their eggs in. I, therefore, included it in the list.
In addition to the one's actually nesting in our yard, there are at least five others nesting within 100 metres of our yard. They are: Common Grackle, Gray Catbird, Killdeer, Mourning Dove and Pine Siskin. There easily could be others such as Purple Finch, House Finch and Barn Swallow.
This week I am covering the most common wood warbler in Canada, the Yellow Warbler. At the moment a pair is nesting in our clematis vines along the house. They sure are busy. Several times there has been a flurry of excitement when a female Cowbird showed up. The warblers attacked and chased the Cowbird away. However there are times when the warblers are away from the nest providing an opportunity for the Cowbird to slip in and lay her egg for the warblers to hatch and raise her young. Yellow Warblers will seldom rear a Cowbird. Rather, they simply build another nest right over top of the old one, eggs and all. Growing up on the farm, I used to go around to small birds' nests and throw out the Cowbirds' eggs. I do not know if the parasitized birds appreciated my efforts or not. Also, if a Yellow Warbler's nest is disturbed, the warblers will abandon the nest and build a new one elsewhere. This is not at all uncommon among birds in general, but what is unusual is that the Yellow Warbler will dismantle the old nest and use the material to build the new one. What is even more remarkable is this is accomplished within a couple of days. This is exactly what happened the last time the warblers built a nest in our yard. The nest was in a cranberry too close to the BBQ and the constant disturbance forced them to leave, nest and all.
The majority of warblers have at least some yellow on them but only the Yellow Warbler is literally all yellow leading it to be erroneously called a Canary sometimes. The males have been described as a lemon with wings. The male also has quite noticeable red striping on its breast. The female is a much subdued version of the male. The breast and belly are a dull yellow while the top side is a dull yellowish green.
There are many warblers that can be seen in one's yard, but the Yellow is the only one that seems to like being in close proximity to man to the point that it will even nest there. For example, this year a pair of Yellow Warblers have built a nest in the vines that are just outside our bedroom window. Not only do they provide enjoyment during the day but the birdsong in the morning is pleasant to wake up to.
This week's pictures were taken of the nesting pair that I have just covered. One photo is of the pair sunning themselves in the morning with the female preening herself and the male "standing guard". The other picture is of the male on our satellite dish defending his territory against other intruding male Yellow Warblers. Several times we observed two males fighting in elfin fury with one finally giving in and fleeing. I never was able to figure out whether the intruder won or not.