Missouri’s Warblers — Beautiful Creatures in Tiny Packages

July 11, 2013

A northern parula, one of Missouri’s most colorful summer residents, pauses for about two seconds among some sycamore leaves along a Meramec River spring branch. Diminutive, and a bit on the skittish side, northern parulas go unnoticed by most Missourians as they spend much of their time high in the crowns of trees. I photographed this eye-catching male, along with the male yellow-throated warbler in the second image, a few weeks ago while searching for river otters. I felt pretty lucky to capture such nice images of these tiny warblers when I wasn’t even looking for them. But that is how it works most of the time with wildlife photography, as is often reflected in my stories.

One of the great benefits of working for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is the opportunity to attend awesome workshops on topics such as cave ecology, prairie ecology, and bird ecology. These courses are given by MDC scientists who have dedicated their lives to conservation and it is a joy to be around them when they are in their element.

Last year, I studied the reptiles and amphibians of Missouri with MDC resource scientist and herpetologist, Jeff Briggler, and I was blown away by both the coursework and the field trips. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, I took another course a few weeks ago on bird ecology and was equally impressed with Brad Jacobs, another of our resource scientists and the author of “Birds in Missouri,” a book which I refer to with every article I write on anything avian. We started each morning with a field trip to different habitats where we identified and discussed every bird we saw or heard. During the heat of the afternoon, we returned to the classroom for enrichment.

I was happy to comply with Brad’s request to bring along a Powerpoint presentation full of birds for one of the bird quizzes during the workshop. He asked me to throw in some bad shots to simulate tough identification conditions in the field. I told him that would be a problem as I don’t have any bad shots!

DJB_BSB_2013_0753Yellow-throated Warbler

I continue to make progress, although glacial at times, identifying Missouri birds in the field, but I still amuse my mentors now and then. For example, I thought I saw a yellow-rumped warbler last weekend and my friend Mark Haas advised me to get good photo documentation because, according to his references, the last one spotted in Missouri in the summer was in 1897! But my biggest weakness is hearing the birds I can’t see, especially if they sing in the high register, as many warblers do. My ears just don’t work like they used to and they aren’t going to get any better. I don’t let it bother me too much for now but I’m sure it will become more frustrating in the future as I’ve noticed that expert birders depend more on sound than sight.

Please enjoy these images of Missouri’s secret summer gems. I look forward to adding more species to my portfolio and sharing them with you as soon as possible. Also, be sure to check my website now and then for birds that don’t make it to the blog.

Thanks for looking,


Northern Parula:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with Canon 1.4 TC III Extender; 1/100 @ f/5.6; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II; Converted and Processed in Canon DPP

Yellow-throated Warbler:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens; 1/160 @ f/4.0; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II; Converted and Processed in Canon DPP

8 comments on “Missouri’s Warblers — Beautiful Creatures in Tiny Packages”

  1. Hi Danny,

    Amazing post and informative, interesting writing. Always love that you share your talent with us!



  2. Such morsels of delight! And also, I know, how difficult to even see clearly sometimes, leave alone photograph. Hats off to you for the great images!

  3. What an incredible shot Danny, of that beautiful little Warbler. Your timing is perfect. Thank for sharing your work with all of us each week. I am learning a lot about the different birds of Missouri.


  4. Such beautiful colors….it’s the first time that I have ever seen northern parula.
    But then again, I have never been to Missouri either!
    I need to get out and about more, I think.

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