Audubon’s Warbler vs Ruby-crowned Kinglet with a Surprise Sapsucker Guest!

by Larry Jordan on October 31, 2011

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) photos by Larry Jordan

When I began landscaping around my house about ten years ago, I planted a couple of Raywood Ash trees and three Redwood trees near my garage. They are about fifteen feet tall now. Little did I know that they would become the battleground for birds foraging for insects in my yard!  (Click on photos for full sized images).

When I went out early Sunday morning to walk the dog I noticed that I had Ruby-crowned Kinglets (Regulus calendula) flitting around the oak trees.  I love seeing these active little birds arrive for the winter.  They are easy to spot in the trees despite their small size because of their constant habit of flicking their wings and never remaining still, even for a moment.

Well, I grabbed my camera and headed out to the scrub oaks to capture some shots of the little bundles of energy when I discovered that the Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warblers (Setophaga coronata) were foraging in the trees as well.

Right away I could see that they weren’t getting along.  As soon as the kinglet approached the Raywood Ash tree, the warbler would chase it out of the tree.  She was seriously guarding her food source of the day!

I guess this is not surprising since they both forage for insects.  The Ruby-crowned Kinglet ended up coming over to the other Ash near the fence where I was standing, working her way around the branches, looking for arthropods and insects no doubt.

Both birds were hawking insects in mid-air which is always fun to watch.  By the way, both of these species breed in the Canadian Boreal Forest where 53% of warblers breed and where these breeding grounds need more protection from development and polution (see previous post).

When the Butterbutt wasn’t chasing the Ruby-crown from her Ash tree, she would go up to the roof of the garage to catch insects.

There was a huge hatch of some kind of flying insect (let me know if you know what it is from the photos) that had the Yellow-rump hawking all day from these trees.

When she retreated to the roof, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet got a brief respite in the trees.

During the fray, I heard the sound of wings beating over my head as a Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) flew in and landed right on the trunk of the Ash tree where all the action was taking place!  My first Red-breasted Sapsucker for my yard list!  How cool is that?

You can see more information and photos of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet here and more of the Yellow-rumped Warbler here and the Red-breasted Sapsucker here.  You can also see some great bird photos from around the world at World Bird Wednesday!  Come join the fun!

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