And while the bright and colorful wood-warblers are always a crowd-pleaser, I spent some time paying attention to our colorless wood-warbler this weekend, Mniotilta varia , the Black-and-white Warbler. After all, who wants to bird in monochrome when spring migration so often offers technicolor? Oh, yeah, the lack of color! What are we, Europeans? All of the images in this post were taken in Forest Park, my home-away-from-home in spring, and all were digiscoped with my Swarovski digiscoping rig.
This conspicuous warbler arrives in the North early in spring, usually by mid- to late April. It is known for its habit of creeping around tree trunks and along larger branches in search of insect food in crevices in or under the bark; hence its old name, "Black-and-white Creeper. Black and white stripes, including crown. Male has black throat; female's throat white.
It has a white median crown stripe bordered by black on the head. Also a white supercilium separated by a broad black lateral crown-stripe. It has black-spotted undertail coverts. This adaptation allows it to move securely on the surface of the bark. It has shortened tarsi, and a long thin bill with a slightly curved culmen, adapted for probing deeply into bark crevices.
A warbler that behaves like a nuthatch, the Black-and-White Warbler feeds by crawling up and down tree trunks and branches, looking in crevices for insects. They are often found quite low in forest and woodland edges, a habit that makes them quite conspicuous, especially considering their bold black-and-white plumage and unique behavior. Black-and-white Warblers breed in deciduous and mixed woodlands, both mature forest and second-growth forest. During migration and in winter, they are still primarily found in woodlands, but will also sometimes be found in parks, gardens, orchards, and other semi-vegetated habitats. Does most of its foraging by clambering along tree branches and tree trunks in search of insects.