by Grace Huffman
It’s springtime and that means migration is in full swing! Amongst all the birds heading north to breed is one of my favorites, the Hooded Warbler. Hooded Warblers are gorgeous birds, being bright yellow below and a more olive green on top, with a black and white tail. Male Hooded Warblers have a black “hood” that surrounds their face. Females usually lack the hood, although they may have some dark around the face. Here in Oklahoma you can find them in the far eastern and southeastern parts of the state during the summer, where they breed. The males have a beautiful sweet song of about 4-5 notes which they sing repeatedly throughout the morning. Both the male and female make a harsh chip call.
You can find them in forested areas, so places like Little River National Wildlife Refuge or heading into Red Slough Wildlife Management Area are where I’ve gotten them. These are places they seem to always be, but I got my very first one a couple years ago at Stinchomb Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma City! This was a very late migrant, and I failed spectacularly in my photo attempts as some of the birders I was with that day may remember.
Hooded Warblers nest low to the ground in thick understory, with the female weaving a cup nest out of items like bark and plant down. They only raise one brood of 2-5 eggs each year, and Brown-headed Cowbirds are frequent nest parasites, meaning they lay their eggs in the nest of the Hooded Warblers which are then raised by the warblers as their own, and cowbird babies are able to out compete the warbler babies for food.
Thankfully, Hooded Warblers are very common, and are even increasing in population! Hopefully next time you’re in far eastern or southeastern Oklahoma, you are able to see and hear one!