All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

Warblers Provide A Welcome Escape

The "butterbutt" of the warbler family is the Yellow-rumped Warbler. Photo by Dave Bell of Belleville

It was a Yellow-rumped Warbler which marked the start of the warbler migration for me. Actually, I didn’t see it, but I did hear its loose trill as we made our way through the Point Traverse Woods. Many reactionary birders still call them Myrtle Warblers, a name they went by for many years. Birders in the field call them “Butterbutts” in reference to their prominent yellow rump. Their arrival marks the start of the warbler migration, tiny, neotropical migrants that are making their way from wintering grounds in South and Central America to breeding grounds farther north, some to the boreal forests, others well out of Ontario. And they have made it this far, to Prince Edward County’s South Shore without bumping into anything or getting caught by a predator or hit by a car. Amazing.  An incredible 30+ species of warblers will arrive this month in these same woods ; many already have – Blackburnians, Nashvilles, black-and-whites, pines, palms, black-throated greens, black-throated blues, and the always common yellows. Together, they sing amongst the still bare branches, as though in celebration of their arrival, and we are celebrating with them. It’s an absolutely glorious time of the year – a spring awakening that will last until month’s end. Join us May 14-23 as we lead you along the groomed trails at Point Traverse every morning at 8:00 a.m. and we will point out these miracles of flight. Their camaraderie is heartwarming , they’re all amazing actors, they’re sweet and humble, and they sing like there’s no tomorrow. In a world where very little makes sense anymore, Point Traverse is one place I can go for a month and become lost in their world.  We want to share that with you.

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About the Author: Terry Sprague became interested in nature at an early age. "Growing up on the family farm at Big Island, 12 miles north of Picton, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Quinte, I was always interested in the natural world around me. During my elementary school days at the small one-room school I attended on Big Island, I received considerable encouragement from the late Marie Foster, my teacher in Grades 6 through 8. Her home was a short distance from where I lived and through the years she was responsible for developing my interest in birds. The late Phil Dodds, a former editor with the Picton Gazette, also a great nature enthusiast, suggested I undertake a nature column - a column I have submitted weekly since 1965. The column has since expanded to the Napanee Beaver and the Tweed News. Life has been good, and through the years I have enjoyed working with such nature related agencies as Glenora Fisheries Research as a resource technician, Sandbanks Provincial Park as a park interpreter and Quinte Conservation as a naturalist and outdoor events coordinator. As a nature interpreter, currently working from my home office, I now create and lead numerous interpretive events in the area and offer indoor audio/visual presentations to interested groups. Could one who is interested in nature have enjoyed a more exhilarating period in the work force?" Terry's website is

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  1. Terry says:

    Doris – the American Ornithologists Union, the agency that determines the official naming of our birds, changed the name some years ago to Yellow-rumped Warblers. However, bird banders refer to them as “myrtle warblers” to differentiate between the eastern “myrtle warbler” subspecies and the western “Audubon’s warbler” subspecies for banding purposes. Personally, I still prefer Myrtle. Much more acceptable in the field when in the presence of non-birders to not announce that you have just seen a yellow rump!

  2. Doris Lane says:

    Terry we recorded over 100 Myrtle Warblers on the banding sheets at Prince Edward Point last Friday. They were recorded as Myrtle Warblers so I would think that is the official name of them. But whatever they are called they are marvelous little birds who make a tremendous journey each spring and fall. Let’s hope they will always be able to make that journey without IWTs in the way.

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