Adelaide’s Warblers Thrill St. John

With so many talented artists performing on St. John during the winter season, you can be out almost every night rocking and rolling. 
Adelaide's warbler by Lameshur Bay
Photo Richard Veit

Now a new Latin group performing on St. John’s south shore is causing quite a stir. They are called Adelaide’s Warblers, but back home in Puerto Rico their group is the Reinita Mariposeras (which loosely translates into ‘Little Queen Butterfly Hunters’). Not very macho, but I heard they were flashy looking and knew a lot of sweet songs so my friend Kathy and I drove out to Lameshur Bay to catch their act. 
Okay, they were just little birds but very handsome and good singers, so we were happy we made the trip. We did have to hike out into the forest a little way past Little Lameshur Bay beach on the path towards Reef Bay. It is lovely out there, but it’s not a good venue for the late night crowd – which is okay because the birds do most of their singing from mid-morning to early afternoon.

One of the common male songs is a long loud trill increasing in pitch. We could hear it from a distance up the hill before we saw a couple of birds flitting back and forth across the path.

The interesting thing about these warblers is that until recently they were only found on Puerto Rico and Vieques. Now they seem to be settling in the Virgin Islands as well. I heard about these guys from Professor Richard Veit who frequently does research at VIERS, the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Stations at Lameshur. He is a professor from the College of Staten Island and the City University of New York Graduate Center.

The Adelaide’s Warblers were first observed on St. Thomas in 2012. Last January Professor Veit and his colleagues found five of them on St. John near Lameshur, including at least three different singing males that appeared to be vigorously defending breeding territories. This January they counted eight. Seems like the band is expanding.

There are some familiar St. John residents also performing in the same area – including Bananaquits and Yellow Warblers. Though they may show you a flash of yellow as they flit past, up close these birds sound and look quite different.  
Yellow warbler      Photo Gail Karlsson

Bananaquit               Photo Gail Karlsson
 The song of the Yellow Warbler is commonly described as “sweet, sweet, I’m so sweet”, while the Bananaquit keeps repeating “tseet, tseet, tseet” which is not very melodic. 

If you don’t make it to Lameshur, you can check out some of the trilling tunes of the Adelaide’s Warblers at this website: