Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blackpoll Warbler

Spring-plumaged, male Blackpoll Warblers (here a Northfield bird banded in the 2011 spring) present few identification challenges.  Females and fall birds, like the fall 2008 Blackpoll in the second photo, present problems.
In all plumages, one key is in the feet and legs.  Blackpolls almost always show at least some yellow in the legs. The legs below, from the male above, are exceptionally yellow.  Even spring females often have legs like these.  In the fall, however, the yellow is often restricted to the birds' toes.  This field mark can be hard to see. 
Compare this leg with the foot of a fall-plumaged Bay-breasted Warbler that I shared with you in this blog on 5 September 2010.  (Click on the date to see the Bay-breasted foot.) A fall Blackpoll (below), demonstrates how reduced this yellow color can be (from 20 September 2010 blog post).

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