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Don’t let the name influence you into believing that the Canada Warbler only hangs out in Canada. Even though it was first discovered in Canada, it is certainly not confined there.
This warbler has been found breeding here in Kentucky in Harlan County in the higher elevations of Black Mountain as well as Bell and Letcher counties. However, the State Breeding Status is of Special Concern.
It has been known to arrive as early as April 19, but the majority arrive in early May and start leaving in mid-September, with the latest date seen being Oct. 12.
Look for a long and slim warbler that is 5-and-a-quarter inches long with an 8-inch wide wingspan and a lengthy tail. It has gray upper parts, bright yellow under parts, a beautiful blackish speckled necklace on its upper chest and a bold distinct eye ring.
The song is a staccato “chip chippitty chip chippiwee.” It constantly cocks its tail and flicks its wings while hunting for insects in the mid-story of the forest. The Canada Warbler also forages on the ground and is very adept at using flycatcher type maneuvers to capture a tasty insect morsel.
The Canada Warbler breeds from Newfoundland, central Quebec, central Ontario, central Manitoba and southern Alberta, south to Connecticut, the north Georgia Mountains, south Ontario, and central Minnesota. They winter in Ecuador and Peru.
The nest is on or near the ground in a mossy hummock, a cavity in a bank, an upturned tree root, and a rotted moss-covered stump or log. It is a bulky structure of grasses, weed stems, bark fibers or leaves and is built on a base of large dead leaves. The lining is made of rootlets, plant down or hair. The outside diameter is 4-and-a-half to 5 inches, the height is 2-and-a-half inches, the inside diameter is 2-and-a-quarter to 2-and-a-half inches, the depth is 1-and-a-half to 1-and-three-quarters inches and the entrance is 2 inches wide.
The female lays three to five, commonly four, white to creamy white smooth shelled eggs with a slight gloss. They are dotted, spotted and sometimes blotched with browns, which are usually concentrated at the large end. Incubation is by the female, probably for 12 days, with one brood only. The male has not been observed bringing food for the female, while she is incubating. However, he does feed the young.
So even though this beautiful little bird is a Canada Warbler, you do not have to go all the way to Canada to see it. You very well may see one passing through central Kentucky on its spring or autumn migration or you can make a journey down to Black Mountain in Harlan County around mid-May and observe the Canada Warbler, in all its beauty, singing, nesting and raising a family 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.