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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

For Kids > I'm Alive > Warblers - A rainbow of birds Warblers - A rainbow of birds

Warbler
Warbler

Imagine the brilliant colors of a rainbow. Now, imagine a pair of feathered wings with every one of those colors. What if we told you that those flittering blues and reds, yellow and greens, oranges and indigos could be seen in Indiana every May? That's right. Welcome to the spring "winged migration" in Indiana!

Every spring, waves of brightly-colored birds flood into our woodlands in search of the perfect habitat to call home for the summer. Many of our favorite birds make up this flying mass of bug-eaters. From the bright scarlet of tanagers to the golden-yellows of the wood warblers, there seems to be a bird for every shade in a rainbow and a few other colors to boot. Their names bear out their brilliance: birders look for black and white warblers, black-throated green warblers, black-throated blue warblers, yellow-throated warblers and the common yellowthroat to name only a few.

Most of these birds are smaller than a package of chewing gum or a candy bar, but they migrate thousands of miles twice a year. In the fall, they fly south to the rain forests of Central and South America. In the spring, they return to North American woodlands in what sometimes seems like large waves, prompted by weather systems and the instinct to mate and nest.

All in all, some 20 of the 30-plus warblers that migrate through will stop in Indiana to breed. The most common of these is the ecstatic, little yellow warbler. Warblers are known for their high pitched calls, often with trills and repetitive phrases. These calls are appealing to us and help us identify these tiny birds high in the treetops, but they are singing, not for us, but to establish territories and find mates. The yellow warbler sings "sweet- sweet-sweeter-than sweet" Those with patience and determination will seek out and find equally stunning species, such as cerulean warblers and Northern parulas.

The best part is you can go out any place, any time. There are no dues to pay, no permission needed. All you need is a pair of eyes (and a set of binoculars is a good idea), an interest in something new… and a love of rainbows!

Many properties have events to watch warblers and other birds. Click here to see the interpretive program schedules and see if there are any birding events at your favorite property!