First Warble of Spring

Pine Warbler
Photo ©Dave Cagnolatti.

I heard the first one a few days ago, but distantly. Today I heard two much closer. The first of the migrant songbirds that nests in our neighborhood is arriving, the Pine Warbler. More singing males will come in, and soon I’ll be hearing them every day from our yard. The peak of spring songbird migration in our area is usually the second week of May, give or take, but a few of the hardiest species are already arriving. Warblers eat insects, and there are definitely some of those out and about, so these early arrivals should do fine.

Pine Warblers tend to stay up in the treetops most of the time, so I rarely get a good look like the one in this photograph. Occasionally one will come down to our pond for a drink, but usually they’re a neck-strainer with binoculars. And unlike many bird names, this one is apt: they actually do seem to prefer pine trees.

The song is a straight warble. You can hear a sample on THIS page, click the link there named “Pine Warbler Voice”. It’s exactly the kind of song that “warbler” was intended for, unlike some of the others. A long modulating note sort of like a very tiny opera singer. Among the confusion of song the spring brings, it’s good to start out with this simple, easy to identify one. Later, when dozens of songs are coming at you from every direction, you can still point to this one and say, confidently, “Pine Warbler.” At least you can if you’ve really listened and absorbed the sound, nothing else is quite the same. And nothing else sounds quite like early spring in our neck of the woods.

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