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!

If you use Google Friend Connect, please consider joining my website via the widget in the right hand column of my blog and I will join yours in return.  Thanks for the visit!

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

TexWisGirl November 1, 2011 at 5:46 am

these are beautiful birds. i saw a yellow-rump here yesterday so they must be coming thru. and that red-breasted sapsucker is beautiful! have only seen yellow-bellied here! 🙂


Mimmu November 1, 2011 at 9:24 am

Lovely photos and most of those birds are quite new to me, thank you!


springman November 1, 2011 at 9:43 am

Amazing post as always Larry, filled with great photos and your passion for birding. I agree with TexWisGirl, the Red-breasted sap sucker is a real beauty and a pleasure to see photographed so well. A great backyard bird!
Your article on the Canadian Boreal forest and it’s relationship to avian life is not to be missed.
Cheers to you Sir!


Boom & Gary November 1, 2011 at 10:49 am

Great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


Andrew November 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Your birds are fantastic Larry… Many thanks for sharing your lovely images.


Eileen November 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Great post, Larry! I love the birds and the photos. It is cool to watch the kinglet do their hawking.


Mick November 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Great photos and very interesting description of the bird inter-action.


Carole November 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Great post and a wonderful example of a reason for planting native trees; they feed our native insects which most of the native birds eat and need to feed their young.


Carole M. November 1, 2011 at 8:10 pm

such a wonderful assortment of birds in the one photo shoot. I loved the title of this post; I saw it as a top tongue-twister. My favourite, the red-bellied sap-sucker; though they’re each beautiful


Larry November 1, 2011 at 9:57 pm

@Theresa thanks. The Red-breasted Sapsucker was definitely a treat

@Dave thanks for your support and thanks so much for hosting World Bird Wednesday!

@Gary thank you and thanks for commenting on the Boreal Wetlands post

@Andrew, it’s my pleasure!

@Eileen I must say that watching Ruby-crowned Kinglets is one of my favorite things to do. Every year when they arrive I set out with my camera to find them. I think I will attempt to capture those little balls of energy with my video camera next. Wish me luck!

@Mick thank you very much

@Carole I agree. Native plants are the best solution for landscaping for so many reasons


Arija November 1, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Love your tiny little birds. They are so hard to catch in all that leafage. The little kinglet looks a little like our silver-eyes. Always great to see and read about the interaction of species.

I still can’t follow your blog . . . no idea what the problem is, blogger just refuses to co-operate.


joo November 2, 2011 at 2:05 am

They are all so beautiful!


Jennifer November 2, 2011 at 2:07 am

The sapsucker is gorgeous. It’s nice to be able to do birding from one’s window or porch .)


Liz November 2, 2011 at 8:42 am

Brilliant post Larry!! You are blessed to be able to bird watch from your yard!
I would love that but can’t complain about the walks I have to capture mine. It doesn’t help that our city property is devoid of bird attracting trees!
Thanks for the “Google Friend Connect” request! It’s great to be following your blog.


dreamfalcon November 2, 2011 at 9:20 am

How cool is this! You got some very nice shots of that bundle of energy – it has posed for you! And that red-bellied-sapsucker is a beauty!


Pat November 2, 2011 at 9:43 am

Love the little birds and the Sapsucker is gorgeous!


Tracey Nanstad November 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

How lucky you are to have such beautiful birds right in your yard! i would be outside watching all the time!


Larry November 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

@Arija thanks for your follow attempts 😉 The interaction of the species and just bird behavior is always interesting to me

@joo thanks!

@Jennifer I consider myself so very fortunate to have many birding opportunities in my life

@Liz I am a lucky guy and thanks for the follow!

@Natalie I had to be pretty quick to catch that pose from the Ruby-crowned Kinglet but it sure was a joy to watch them. Also, thanks for the follow!

@Pat thanks. I like that Sapsucker too!

@Tracey, sometimes it’s hard to get anything done when I’m home because all I want to do is watch birds 🙂


Jean November 2, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Larry, I enjoyed seeing what birds visited your yard. It is so exciting to get a new bird. The RB Sapsucker rocks!


Pat Ulrich November 3, 2011 at 5:11 am

Really lovely collection of backyard birds!


CameraCruise November 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Great photos of your backyard birds!


heyBJK November 3, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Wonderful shots! I’ve never seen a Red-breasted Sapsucker. Great looking bird!


NatureFootstep November 4, 2011 at 4:35 am

a great set of warblers. 🙂


Martha Z November 5, 2011 at 11:58 am

Great images, Larry. I have a hard time with song birds, they move so fast and my lens is slow to focus.
I do see the yellow-rump in my yard but haven’t seen the other two any where around here.


Pieces of Sunshine November 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I love finding birds in our own yard, all the more so when unexpected. We have planted a number of Australian native plants, partly to encourage native birds. Sounds like you had a wonderful time observing their behaviour.


Carole M. November 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Hi Larry! Each of the birds here are beautiful but I must say that red-breasted sapsucker certainly is an eye-catcher. What a thrill to find him in your garden, and to get such a wonderful photograph too. Hope he starts visiting often…


Debbie November 5, 2011 at 7:56 pm

wonderful photo’s….i don’t see sapsuckers here but i have been getting lot’s of warblers.

we are so lucky to see and appreciate all these little beauties!!


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