Blue Ridge Parkway 7/29/10

Variable skies with mid-80's and high humidity here in the valley this morning, so I decided to see what was up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I first went to my two favorite spots between the north end of the parkway and Reids Gap. Stopped at 9:00 at the large open cirque overlook between mile markers 7 and 8 that has a large rock outcropping in the center and looks to the west. Saw Hooded Warblers there at the north end twice this year. Not too much - a few Eastern Towhees, Indigo Buntings, etc, and then I saw a male and female Scarlet Tanager fly into one of the trees. It was overcast then, and I had to set my camera for the darker shots - a minute or so later, a flying Warbler caught my attention as it flew into a tree where I had seen the Hooded Warbler earlier this summer.

Unfortunately, I only got two out of focus shots of its front view, and one other shot as it was flying away. I did not have time to get any photos with my monopod planted for a steady shot. It clearly has a gray back, yellow throat and underside, and orange legs. The best match I could find is a Canada Warbler, which would be a new life bird for me. I think, but am not sure, that when it was flying into the tree, I saw a pale gray band on the top of its tail, but not bright white like a Magnolia Warbler, and perhaps it was just how the light was reflecting off of its tail. If anyone has any other ideas, or agrees that it is a Canada Warbler, I would appreciate hearing from you. I waited around until 9:30, but did not see it again.

Scarlet Tanager



I then drove up to Hickory Springs Overlook, and there were Cedar Waxwings, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhees, and a Downy Woodpecker. I also got a few quick glimpses and heard a couple of other birds that I could not identify. At 10:00, I headed back down the parkway, stopping at a few places, but all I saw/heard were Towhees and Indigo Buntings, and one Cardinal.

I stopped off at Afton Inn to look for raptors - the hawk watch does not officially start until August 15, and a Northern Mockingbird flew right up to me to let me know that I was there too early and to come back in a couple of weeks.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

Chris M. (VA): I agree that this is a Canada Warbler. The combination of gray upper parts, absence of wingbars or tail spots, yellow under parts, and yellow legs seems to support Marshall's Canada Warbler ID. Also from the photo, although not entirely conclusive, it appears that this bird has whitish undertail coverts again pointing towards Canada. Mourning Warbler would have olive-green upper parts, and yellow undertail coverts apart from the fact that it does not breed here. Cornell lists the distribution of the Canada Warbler as:

Breeds across southern boreal region of Canada, and across much of se. Canada, ne. U.S., the Great Lakes region, and south (at higher elevations) along the Appalachian Mtns. to ne. Georgia.

Congratulations Marshall on finding a life bird if indeed it turns out that it is.

Tim H. (VA): Canada Warbler; note the blue on the back.

Dave P. (MO): It is either a Canada or Kentucky but can't tell for sure.

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