Migration times bring a sense of excitement and anticipation to birders and bird photographers. From August through September, I concentrate on the Warblers that pass through my Edmonton area from their breeding grounds farther north. Photographing these very active small birds presents a fun and often frustrating challenge. They pass through in multi-species waves busily foraging in the understory and the canopy depending on the species. Since they are not territorial at this time, they keep moving and do not often pause long enough for a good photo opportunity.
Identification is another challenge. The males of many species have lost their flamboyant breeding plumage. The flocks also have many juvenile birds of different species. First fall individuals often look nothing like the adults. The birds are not singing at this time, so identification by song is not an option. Some species do have distinctive alarm notes.
Sometimes migration brings in some local rarities. This year we had two such individuals; a Northern Parula, and a Black-throated Blue Warbler. Both of these were very far out of their normal range.
It takes experience and a good Field Guide to sort these fall Warblers out. Don Delaney’s favorite guide is the Peterson Guide for Warblers.