Posts Tagged ‘Common Yellowthroat’

On the weekend, RailGuy and I were out in Cornwall, and after finishing our shopping, decided to check out Cooper Marsh Conservation Area. The marsh is located about 18 kilometres east of Cornwall, at the edge of the St. Lawrence river, south of Lancaster. Cooper Marsh is part of a larger wetland, the Charlottenburgh Marsh.

Interestingly, the land wasn’t originally wetland. The marsh was first created in the mid-1800s by navigational water-level control structures, and was further impacted by the Seaway Project in the 1950s. The land was acquired in the 1940s by the Coopers, who worked with the Raisin Region Conservation Authority in the 1970s to protect the marsh. A network of dykes, dams and channels were constructed by Ducks Unlimited and partners to improve the quality of the marsh habitat for wildlife.

There were four different trails to choose from and we decided to take the boardwalk trail. It is an ambitious boardwalk that loops in a long curve through a swampy wet area with plenty of plant life and standing water. The boards were beginning to show their age. In between many of the boards was a dense growth of Cladonia spp lichen.

The shrubby areas were alive with small birds, but it was hard to get a good look at them, let alone a photograph. Most views looked like this glimpse of a Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), below.

I did get a few better shots. Here is a Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris).

And a Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana).

Of course, there were the usual wetland residents, such as Red-winged Blackbirds, as well. But the highlight of the walk were the Green Herons (Butorides virescens). I’ve seen Green Herons before, but only a brief glimpse as the bird disappeared out of sight into heavy shrubbery. Here they were right out in the open.

At the end of the boardwalk is a blind from which we were able to watch the herons, and also spotted these ducklings.

The ducklings seemed to be on their own. Where was their mother? When I later looked more closely at this photograph of a heron, surprise! There’s Mother Mallard, peaking out from the top left corner.

The boardwalk offered lots to see. We only had time for a quick walk, but look forward to revisiting both the boardwalk and the other park trails on another day.

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When I was walking out to the barn, I heard a woodpecker tap-tap-tapping and spotted this fellow at work. I don’t have the quality of photographic equipment needed for great bird shots, but was pleased to get a picture of this individual. It’s a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius). Birdgirl identified it as a young bird, hatched this year. It can be identified as such by its mottled brown head. This is its juvenile plumage. It will moult in the late fall or early winter and acquire its adult plumage, which features red patches on the crown and forehead.


Sapsuckers drill parallel rows of small holes in the bark of trees. Insects are attracted to the holes as they fill with sap. The sapsucker makes rounds of the trees it has tapped and laps up both the sap and the insects trapped in the sap.

Just after seeing the sapsucker, I spotted the bird shown below in the Viburnum bush. It appeared to be checking out the fruit on the bush.


Fall warblers can be difficult to identify and I asked Birdgirl for her help with this one too. It is a Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), a young of the year, just hatched this summer. It’s not surprising that there should be young yellowthroats in the area. There were a number of yellowthroats singing in the spring. They are more often heard than seen, as they tend to stay hidden in the foliage of bushes. The male’s song is easily identified, a crisp “Witch-it-y! Witch-it-y! Witch-it-y!” If you do catch sight of a male, its black mask is distinctive. Below is a yellowthroat I saw outside the kitchen window this spring.


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