Bird #322 — Worm-eating Warbler

helmitheros (worm-hunter) vermivorus (from vermis, worm, and vorare, to devour)

Tuesday, July 17, 1990 — 9:50 am

Kings Mountain National Military Park, South Carolina

I was on the battlefield trail about one quarter of the way around the base of the mountain. I’d been watching my lifer Louisiana Waterthrush scolding me from a perch above a creek when I became aware of another bird. I checked it out and … another lifer! A Worm-eating Warbler was foraging through the leaves on a branch about 10 feet above the trail and about 20 feet in front of me. I got a good look before it was chased away by another small bird. They flew through the woods and out of sight. I spent about 20 minutes in the area and finally found the warbler again. It was foraging in the brush around the base of a large tree immediately next to the creek. The woods in the area were mostly deciduous, with a sprinkling of pines.

Several years ago, my wife bought me a micro-cassette for my birthday for me to use while birding. I brought it on this vacation and recorded my observations into it. When I was back home transcribing my notes, I noticed a marked lack of enthusiasm while I was watching these two lifers. I would have expected my voice to be laced with excitement, but no. I was just whispering in a dry, slow monotone with no hint of thrill. And then there is a pause … “Oh baby, this is awesome!” I managed to convey, in those five whispered words, all the excitement that makes birding worth the trouble. The heat, the cold, the travel, the birds, the time, the shattered anticipation, all become worth it when a moment like this comes along.

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