Friday, October 4, 2002
Found: In late September in a wooded back yard on Concord Street.
Distinguishing characteristics: A "Confusing Fall Warbler" (see Peterson Guide), about 5 inches long. Streaked olive back, yellowish streaked breast; white wing bars, belly, and under tail; faint eyebrow, and yellow feet (legs may also be yellow). The male looks very different after he molts in spring: black-capped and white-cheeked like a chickadee, but with a black and white streaked body (female is grayer). His song is very high-pitched (if you can hear it you know that your hearing is still good!) Gleans insects and some berries from trees and shrubs.
Where to look: Blackpolls breed in taiga and in high-mountain spruce (e.g., on Mt. Washington, near tree-line). They migrate through our area in spring and fall. One of the most common fall warblers, they are often seen until late October.
Other characteristics: Blackpolls have a remarkable migration route. Those that breed in Alaska and Canada fly to our coastline, head across the Atlantic (towards Africa) until they are blown to the West Indies by the trade winds, then go on to their wintering grounds in South America: a journey of 2,500 miles! We wish them well through the storms of this fall.
References: Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies, The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito