Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Palm Warbler
 
 

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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Passeroidea)
         Nine-primaried Oscines
            Family Parulidae - Wood-Warblers (New World Warblers)

  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Passeroids include the Nine-primaried Oscines, pipits, Old World sparrows, and weavers.
Nine-primaried Oscines include New World warblers, icterids (New World blackbirds), emberizines (buntings), tanagers, cardinalines (cardinals), and fringillines (finches).
New World Warblers are small and mostly arboreal, nine-primaried oscines with slender bills. Many are sexually dimorphic with brightly colored nuptial plumages. More northerly populations are migratory.  Our most obvious permanent resident is the Pine Warbler. Northern Parulas and Yellow-throated Warblers are prominent breeding warblers. In winter, look for the most abundant North American warbler, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the less abundant Palm Warbler and Orange-crowned Warbler. The Black-and-white Warbler is a common migrant. Many other warblers may be found on Seabrook during migration, especially in the fall when their identification may be difficult.
Typical Warblers (Dendroica) include many colorful oscines, some of which are very long distance migrants while others remain here. Most have white spots in their tails and breeding males are brighter than females (they are sexually dimorphic) or males in the fall.
 
Winter Warblers on Seabrook - Yellow-rumped Warblers are active and noisy - constantly chattering as they forage (Palm Warblers are deliberate foragers and are generally quiet). "Butterbuts" are also present in larger social groups (10 to 20) where palms are usually in groups of 3-4 or so.
     
       
  Palm Warbler, Setophaga palmarum
 
 Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoL
        WINTER - Fairly common / Fairly common
            BOGS, EDGES, FIELDS (usually near water); SECOND GROWTH (winter)
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   The Palm Warbler has yellow under tail coverts, a dark eye-line and a pale line tinged with yellow above the eye (supercilium). The crown is rufous in adults and the breast is streaked. There is some white in the outer tail feathers seen when they fly. The back is an orangish brown.

Palm Warbler
     
Palm Warbler. Yellow (eastern) form.
Old Stilesboro Road, Acworth, GA
Photo by Ed Konrad
       
     Note that there are two types of "palms." One, the western or brown form has a whitish belly with light streaks. This form largely breeds from Quebec west. The eastern or yellow Palm Warbler breeds in the Maritimes and has rufous streaks on a bright yellow breast. Our winter visitors are predominantely the western or brown form (the eastern population winters along the Gulf).
       
  RANGE: The yellow Palm Warbler breeds from Newfoundland and southern Labrador west to western Quebec and south to the St Lawrence, Maine, and Nova Scotia. The brown Palm Warbler breeds west through Ontario, Manitoba, northern Alberta and Saskatchewan into the Northwest Territories. Both forms winter along the Gulf Coast and in Florida. Our winter birds are probably the brown (western) form.
   In the winter, birds in Florida and the Bahamas often associate with palms - hence their name.
  BREEDING: Monogamous, occasionally polygamous. Probably two broods/year. The Palm Warbler female builds a nest on the ground or low in a spruce, close to the trunk (their breeding habitat is spruce bogs of the taiga). It is made of dry grass and other plant material and has a fine lining. She lays 4-5 eggs which both (?) sexes incubate for about 12 days. Young are altricial and fledge after 12 days. Both sexes care for the young.
  DIET: The feed almost entirely on insects with a few berries. They may hover as they glean and will flycatch. They wag their tail as they forage. In the fall, they may join mixed flocks (other warblers, parids, juncos, sparrows, etc.).  
  VOICE: Their song is a dull, uneven buzzy trill changing in pitch and volume but remaining steady. It is weak and infrequently heard. It is unlikely that they sing on their winter grounds.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - common spring and fall, uncommon winter
      Coastal - fairly common winter visitor, common transient. Hilton Head - common winter visitor.
         Cape Romain
- occasional/absent/common/uncommon. Huntington Beach - uncommon September; common October - March.
      Caw Caw - uncommon/absent/common/uncommon. ACE - occasional/absent/uncommon/uncommon.
   Kiawah Island banding - Capn' Sam's spit - 3 Oct 2009; 16 Sep-Oct 2010; 1 Dec 2011; 59 Sep-Nov 2011; 39 Aug-Sep 2012.
      Cougar Island - 8 (1 recapture) Sep-Oct 2009.
   CBC: ACE 11, 21, 6, 2, 28, 39, 36, 3; Charleston 4, 11, 17, 4, 8, 3, 3, 1;
            St Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 26, 24; Hilton Head 11, 12, 67, 35, 19, 10, 7, 13; Sun City/Okatie 1, 0, 11, 68, 38, 29, 29, 23;
            McClellanville 1, 0, 17, 1, nc, 7, 32, 3; Winyah Bay x, x, 1, 10, 5, 10, 7, 1; Litchfield/Pawley's 5, 3, 8, 6, 40, 14, 4, 9.
   P&G: Fairly common winter visitor, abundant fall migrant. Maximum: 97, Sullivan's Island, 2 October 1984. 1 September - 12 May. Accidental in late spring.
   Avendex: 6 records. June-July, September-October. Maximum 505, Charleston Co migration count, September 16, 1995.
   Potter: Fairly common transient from early April to mid-May and mid-September through November. It is common as a winter resident in southeastern South Carolina.
    ●  The Palm Warbler is a fairly common winter resident on Seabrook. They are found in open areas, often in small groups (< 8 or so), searching for insects and moving quietly as they feed. They are also relatively secretive. The dead giveaway for this species is their habit of pumping the tail constantly as they perch and move.
   We see them around Capn' Sam's Creek and in the more open areas along the boardwalks. They may be found feeding in the shrubs just behind the fore-dunes lining North Beach. The Palm Warblers I've seen on Seabrook are the brown or western form but eastern birds would be possible. Look for movement - they will stay largely quiet. 
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    Banner - Cape May Warbler. Athens, GA.
 
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