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The Black-throated Green Warbler is one of the easiest warbler songs to remember and learn because it is a buzzy “I’m so so layzee” and it has many variations.
This 5-inch long warbler with a 7-and-three-quarter inch wide wingspan is more often heard than seen. It hangs out in tall trees, foraging throughout the day, gleaning insects from the upper surface of leaves and evergreen needles, which they prefer. Their song is frequently heard during spring migration.
Look for a little wing-barred bird with a yellow face, an indistinct eye stripe, a dull ear covert patch, thick black streaks on its breast sides, a slight yellow on the lower breast, and, of course, a black throat.
The Black-throated Green Warbler breeds from Newfoundland, central Quebec, central Ontario, southern Manitoba, and central Alberta, south to coastal South Carolina, northern Georgia and Alabama mountains to northern Ohio, southern Wisconsin and southern Minnesota. They Winter from northeast Mexico south to Panama and less commonly from southern Florida through to the West Indies.
They apparently breed locally throughout the Cumberland Plateau and mountains and generally occur wherever Hemlock Trees are numerous in the forest.
The earliest they have been seen in Kentucky is March 20, however mid-April is when their arrival from migration is most normal. They appear to be breeding in Bell, Breathitt, Elliott, Fleming, Harlan, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, McCreary, Morgan, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle and Wolfe counties in Kentucky.
The Black-throated Green Warbler nest is a very compact with a well-built, deep cup usually saddled to a branch or fork of an evergreen in thick foliage and located three to 80 feet above the ground. It also sometimes can be built in a hardwood tree. It is made of fine bark, twigs, mosses, grasses, lichens and spider webs. It is lined with a thick felting of hair, fur, fine stems, rootlets and feathers.
The female, mostly or entirely, builds the nest in about four days. The male may assist only on the first day. The outside diameter is 3-to-4 inches, the height is 2 inches and the depth is 1-and-a-half inch.
She lays four to five creamy white of grayish white smooth shelled eggs, with a slight gloss. They are spotted, dotted or scrawled with reddish brown, purple or lavender colors. Incubation is mostly or entirely by the female for 12 days and occasionally two broods may occur. Luckily, the Brown-headed Cowbird seldom victimizes this species.
So take a spring vacation to one of our beautiful Kentucky State Parks, State Nature Preserves, or Fish & Wildlife Management areas in Eastern Kentucky or maybe visit a long lost relative down that way and acquaint yourself with the warbler family. It will help make your life most joyful in the great outdoors.
To read more columns about birds by Horace Brown, visit www.SentinelNews.com/recreation. Horace Brown is a civil/sanitary engineer, land surveyor and nature photographer and writer. To contact him or order a copy of Brown’s 2014 Eagles, Falcons, Hawks & Vultures Calendar, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 502-682-7711 or write 527 Main St., Shelbyville 40065.