A male Yellow Warbler faces the sun on a spring morning, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Yellow-rumped Warbler eating a bug during winter migration south, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Tennessee Warbler stops in an Ohio field during its fall migration south, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A male Yellow-rumped Warbler in breeding plumage perches on a branch in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Black-and-white Warbler, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A male Yellow Warbler calls from a perch in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Palm Warbler staying alert, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Yellow-rumped Warbler in fall/winter plumage holds a seed, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Chestnut-sided Warbler perches in a tree in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A Pine Warbler looks up while perched in Six Mile Cypress Slough, Fort Myers, Fla.

A Chestnut-sided Warbler sings in Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A female Magnolia Warbler perches among leaves, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A male Yellow-rumped Warbler in breeding plumage perches on a tree limb in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A male Yellow Warbler sings from a branch, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A Blackpoll Warbler perches on a limb in Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A male Prothonotary Warbler sings from a branch, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A Magnolia Warbler perches on a limb in Ottaway National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Prothonotary Warbler perches on a branch, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Yellow-rumped Warbler perched on limb to migration south, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Male Yellow Warbler perched on branch, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A Palm Warbler perches in a tree in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Yellow-rumped Warbler in fall plumage takes off in a field in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A male Chestnut-sided Warbler perches in the sun in Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A Palm Warbler stares from its perch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Pine Warbler perches against a green background Six Mile Cypress Slough, Fort Myers, Fla.

A male Yellow Warbler carries food in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A Palm Warbler perches in a tree in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Prothonotary Warbler rests on a log in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

01.22/Warblers

While I often see warblers in local parks in the spring and fall during migration, the best place to see a wide variety is in Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and other neighboring parks along Lake Erie during May.

It’s unusual to find a warbler in Central Ohio during the summer, even though the range for some warblers includes this area.

But it’s a different story in spring and fall when brightly-colored warblers pass through the area while commuting between their winter home, typically in South America, and their summer home in Canada. The variety of birds increases significantly during May and late September, which is when I shot these warbler photos.

While I often see warblers in local parks in the spring and fall during migration, the best place to see a wide variety is in Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and other neighboring parks along Lake Erie during May. Warblers' migration often includes non-stop flights of a thousand miles or more, so when they do make a stop they must feed constantly to refuel. That's what happens in May along the Ohio side of Lake Erie. The trees are filled with a variety of warblers, all feeding on insects to refuel before another long flight across the lake to get to their summer breeding grounds in Canada.

I'm not a bird watcher. I'm a photo hobbyist who happens to shoot birds, primarily because it is a huge challenge. Every shot is a combination of planning, preparation and luck. But bird watchers live for the spring warbler migration. Magee Marsh is packed every year on Mother's Day weekend when the spring warbler migration is at its peak. There's even a website — The Biggest Week in American Birding — dedicated to the migration through Magee Marsh.

I’ve photographed 22 different types of warblers during visits to parks along Lake Erie and I’ve seen at least five other types that I couldn’t photograph. While the birds pay little attention to the massive number of birdwatchers in the parks, they are still very busy hunting for food so they move quickly from perch to perch.

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