Virginia's Warbler

From: Tom & Jo Heindel
Date: 6/22/99
Time: 3:30:21 PM
Remote Name:


We returned to the Virginia's Warbler breeding area on the east slope of the Sierra to see if they were going to breed there again this year. They are! This is only the second Inyo County record for breeding Virginia's Warblers away from Wyman Canyon although there are intriguing reports from Hunter Mountain Spring in late May which may turn out to be another breeding area. Because Wyman requires arduous 4W driving we thought some of you might be interested in a much easier area to access for a look at this pretty bird. Take the Onion Valley road west from Independence 8.0 miles from Hwy 395. As the macadam road makes a hairpin turn to the left pull-off to the right onto a dirt road and park. There is a locked "USFS NO ENTRY" gate about 30 yards ahead of you. The walk is all level and the bird is less than a mile from your car. First you pass through an area where sage dominates and then begin walking across a huge rock slide about 350 yards wide. Just as the rock slide begins there is a string of Black Oak from far above you to far below you. This is the area where we found one pair last year. This morning we were unable to find this pair but are not convinced that they are gone. Continue through the rock slide area into the Bitterbrush area then the Manzanita area, then Mountain Mahogany. On the left you will see two Jeffrey Pines which is the mark that you are near. In the road on the right track is a rock duck that we left to show where the center of the territory is. The bird has a large territory at least a quarter a mile north to south and the same west to east with the duck near the center. The song is 6 notes (usually) with the first three at the same tone and the second three a repeat but at a lower tone. It is a jingly sound, quite pretty but simple. If you have tapes or CDs with the song of a Virginia's we recommend you take it. It was not singing when we first arrived and we waited some time before beginning to play one song to get his attention. When he first responded he was way up the hill on the left and we could barely hear him. Then he came down into the oaks to check out the invader. He tends to perch a couple of feet down from the top so is not easy to find until he flies to another tree where you can see where he landed. He's usually out on the end of the branches so good views are possible once you see what part of the tree he is in. If you go there and find him, and/or the other one, please let us know! And if you find the nest we owe you a dinner!