Roger Tory Peterson didn't call fall warblers confusing for nothing. As these colorful birds head south for the winter we get to see them in a plumage that is often much more drab than in the spring. To top it off, in many species males and females wear different looks even in the breeding season. Below are two examples of spring warblers that show a sexual dimorphism that is especially important to understand in the autumn. First fall males can sometimes look like adult females and can be a real challenge.
This spring male Black and White Warbler is certainly striking with its bold feather pattern. Easy to distinguish even at a distance.
This spring female Black and White Warbler still sports the basic feather pattern of the male but is much less bright and bold in her markings.
A familiar warbler of the wetlands is the Common Yellowthroat. The males are just gorgeous and easy to ID. However its mate is different enough that it might be thought to be a different species altogether.
This female Common Yellowthroat is built for hiding in the cattails and willows, not for displaying to the neighbors.
With young of the year moving through, fall banding requires paying attention to detail and sometimes the willingness to say "I don't know".