Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Orange-crowned Warbler Photo

Call me boring but the Orange-crowned Warbler may be my favorite bird.  OK, OK, OK it is hard not to vote for the Carolina Chickadee or the Cedar Waxwing as a commonly found favorite since, simply stated, these two species typify a seemingly happy, party bird.  Both the Chickadee and the Waxwing are mostly sighted in gregarious, celebratory groups. They typify the fond expression “the more, the merrier”.  The Waxwing even dons a black party-mask.  I don’t relate to them at all.

But the Chickadee and the Waxwing make me smile when I come upon their party behavior, quietly watching their enthusiastic chatter and group dynamics.  In solitude I watch their group chatter and their epicurean appetite that seems to scream spring-break behavior.  Perhaps Ben Franklin would have related.
If humans are most at ease with those other humans that are familiar, with those that are similar, or with those that are easily understood--then you can learn much about me by knowing that it is the Orange-crowned Warbler that I most admire.  I relate to the Orange-crowned Warbler as if it were the longed-for sister of my mostly-solitary life.
Field guides and birding web sites describe the Orange-crowned as distinguished by “lacking in” markings; by solitary behavior; by being a “monogamous, solitary nester”.  Go figure.  I more than understand; I relate.

The common presence of the Orange-crowned Warbler means that it is wintertime on the Texas Gulf Coast.  Beginning birders can find this bird difficult to identify due to its lack of markings.  But once you WATCH this bird, it is easily identified by its MOVEMENT and BEHAVIOR.  But watching this wood warbler means quick binocular movement in thickets and heavy underbrush.  This species does not sit still.
The Orange-crowned Warbler is easily described by its solitary, Puritan-like busyness that would make even John Adams approve.  As with other warblers, sitting still is not a part of its DNA.  And so even though I’ve enjoyed the solitary company of this beloved species for many years, a good photo has eluded me.  Until this week, that is.  And so this blog post is to share this first photo—after years of attempts that resulted in empty frames of branches  or out-of-focus shots of mostly movement.

My “this week’s” Orange-crowned Warbler photo at Estero Llano Grande State Park:

 And if you saying “show me the orange crown”, then bird with me during a good rainstorm and we may just be blessed with a royal revelation.  When soaking wet, they occasionally reveal their beautiful orange crown.  Personally I like their quiet personality that doesn’t so easily reveal the family jewels.  But if you are willing to make the effort, and if you are willing to brave the elements of Mother Nature, then they may intimately share their colorful side.
The Orange-crowned Warbler may be a “drab”, quiet, solitary bird that is mostly focused on the work at hand.  But still, they have a rainy-day ‘tude that I admire, and understand.

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