Orange-crowned Warbler

A flash of yellow/olive-green in a thicket of Salmonberry caught my eye on a recent walk at the Courtenay Airpark Lagoon. We had completed the main loop and were walking back along the Courtenay River towards the 17th Street Bridge. This section of the river walkway is productive bird habitat with a mix of Red Alder, Big-leaf Maple and a number of berry producing shrubs.

Corey over at 10 000 Birds wrote a great post titled Are Birders More Perceptive Than Non-Birders? that compares how birdwatchers see the world to how non-birders see it. I definitely find that subtle things like movement, colour, shadow and sound catch my attention. Such was the case with the bird in the Salmonberry.

Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
An Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata) checking out the source of disturbance from the safety of the Salmonberry thicket.

I could see it moving around in the back of the Salmonberry canes and realized that it was a warbler. Fortunately Clara was in the stroller at this point and I was able to take some time to entice it out. A little bit of “pishing” distracted the bird from it’s business of investigating the Salmonberry blossoms for insects. Even without binoculars I got my first good look at an Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata) for the year.

Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
Taking a second look around, this Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata) moved a bit more out into the open.

All About Birds describes the Orange-crowned Warblers as a “small, rather drab warbler of shrubs and low vegetation.” They are fairly plain as far as warblers go and their namesake orange-crown is usually only visible when they’re agitated. The bird is dull olive-green to greyish-yellow in colour with yellow undertail coverts. Look for a broken eye-ring and the suggestion of a black line through the eye. The call of this warbler is rather plain as well. I’ve heard it described as a “monotonous trill.”

Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
A side profile showing the rather gray back and the yellow undertail coverts of the Orange-crowned Warbler.

Despite its lackluster description it was a beautiful bird to watch as it worked through the Salmonberry. A perfect way to end a sunny afternoon walk!

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