The Magnolia warbler is a small songbird that nests across the provinces of Canada, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, and the Upper Great Lakes to the northeastern U.S.
The warblers have striking colors, even after the breeding season when many birds lose their bold, colorful plumage and become rather dull.
During the fall migration, these little warblers bring some bright yellows to the early autumn Midwestern woods. These long-distance neotropical migrants are on their way south stopping for a few days in a small woods in Iroquois County.
Suddenly appearing out of the thicket, the Magnolia warblers forage for insects through the leafy bushes at the sunny edge of the small wooded area no larger than an acre.
These small patches of land — that have for some reason avoided the plow — are life savers for migrating birds, insects and bats.
Whether seasonal migrants or wildlife that is here year around, these small untouched habitats that are few and far between and barely surviving among the cultivated lands of Illinois are pieces of land that are of the utmost importance to many species.
The loss of habitat at wintering and nesting sites, as well as the food and resting areas along the migratory routes can have a devastating impact on many species of birds.
The Magnolia warblers travel from Panama and Mexico to the far northern U.S. and up into Canada and back again in the fall.
These migratory trips can be as much as 4,000 miles one way.
It is a hard trip for the little fliers. Those exhausted birds that can’t find places to rest and feed don’t make it.
Awareness and conservation are key to help prevent many species of birds from being listed as rare — or worse — cannot be found.
Shade coffee farms that are replacing the sun coffee farms have provided good habitat for warblers, hummingbirds and other species, and supporting shade grown coffee goes a long way in helping provide a winter habitat for these migrants.
River valleys, lakes and the islands of uncut forests across Illinois are the refueling stations for these tired night travelers that still have many miles to go during another exhausting and challenging migration.