Watching Warblers (West)

Blue Earth Films (2009) www.birdfilms.com

Watching Warblers (West) by Michael Male and Judy Fieth retails for $29.95, is available at www.birdfilms.com, covers 24 species of warblers that breed in western North America north of Mexico, including a number of eastern breeders, as well as rare breeders such as the Rufous-capped Warbler and Tropical Parula. I recommend it to everyone with an interest in birds or birding. It is also the third in, currently, a series of four such works. As with its predecessors in this group, it requires little for even the casual birder to appreciate the effort needed to secure the footage and recordings used.

The footage shows mostly male birds singing on territory, with a discussion of some notable subspecies (e.g.: Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow, Yellow-rumped, and Orange-crowned Warblers). Watching Warblers (West) shows where much of the footage was shot, some sense of the effort involved to find and shoot the species, and nice background sounds such as other singing species and moving water. The recordings also demonstrate the variety and beauty of the songs of the covered species. Likewise, Watching Warblers (West) presents such issues as why Golden-cheeked Warblers need to nest near old growth cedars, "sky islands", and the Painted Redstart's atypical molt. As with the more recent of this series, the narration is good and describes and shows the habitats and ranges of the covered species, the latter with the aid of satellite maps. 

As with the other recent members in this series, there are additional tracks. In this case. four of them: "Movie with Natural Sounds," "Alphabetical Index," "Chorus", and "Fun with Songs." 

"Movie with Natural Sounds" is the same as the main track (which is entitled "Movie with Narration") but without the narration. "Alphabetical Index" is an alphabetical list of the covered species providing hyperlinks to them. "Chorus" offers brief song segments of the covered species. "Fun with Songs" shows slow motion footage with various species including slowed renditions of their songs. 

On a scale of 0 (truly worthless) to 10 (beyond the limit of human ability), I rate Watching Warblers (West) 9, and recommend it to everyone with even a marginal interest in birds or natural history.

Michael R. Hannisian

2-27-11