According to the Audubon website, the Black and White Warbler, Mniotilta varia, is a great bird for beginning birders because it is so easy to see and identify. That’s what happened with me when I joined Leslie Day’s bird identification and bird walking class at the New York Botanical Garden last Wednesday, April 27. I had my binoculars, and I walked through the forest area of the NYBG looking for birds. We saw lots of red-winged blackbirds, a catbird, American robins, and house sparrows, but the prize for me was the Black and White Warbler.
What made it so special was that it kind of put on a little peek-a-boo show as it made its way down a tree trunk. It would come to one part of the trunk where it was visible and then disappear only to reappear on the other side. Our group of ten or so adults stood in rapt attention watching this little bird make its way around and down the tree in its search for insects in the bark crevices. Even though it was far away, I could swear it looked at us and made eye contact as it circled the trunk, and I tried to show that tiny catch of the eye in my quick sketch of the little warbler.
I drew this on Dura-Lar, a vellum-like film. I rarely draw on translucent paper like this, but I found it fun because it is smooth and it is possible to color on both sides to make the colors deeper and the whites stronger. I’ll be experimenting with this more. Meanwhile, I am looking around to play peek-a-boo with another one of these warblers. But take note, the behavior of the black and white warbler is unlike that of other warblers and more like that of the nuthatch or creeper.