I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had heard a Mourning Warbler singing before, but I had never seen one. I always attributed that to their habitat and skulking behavior. It could have been my poor eyesight, however.
Mourning Warblers tend to stay closer to the ground than the one I spied 15 feet high in a dead wild cherry tree. They favor low brushy habitats, not bare tree limbs. Yet, here it was, and I was pretty happy to be able to capture a few photos before this beautiful bird with a lovely song dropped into the underbrush and out of sight.
Most Mourning Warblers nest in boreal forests in states and Canadian provinces well north of Virginia. However, there is a small area in the Allegheny Mountains along the boundaries of Virginia and West Virginia, where they also breed.
When I learned that other birders had spotted Mourning Warblers near Reddish Knob, a mountain summit on the Virginia/West Virginia border, I decided to go for the bird. The drive to that area is less than an hour from my home in the Shenandoah Valley.
Other birders had the same idea. The bird was easily heard, and with six pairs of eyes, the target bird was soon spotted. However, I didn’t expect it to be so out in the open. But I had to act fast. Mourning Warblers seldom sit still. As you can see, this bird was already looking down and dropped out of sight right after I snapped this photo.
I was grateful for the help of the other birders, who were equally happy that I was able to get the photographs I desired. The Mourning Warbler was only one of several bird species I saw that day, but it was the best.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2023
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