With a name like Black-and-white, you won't expect a colorful bird. True to its name, the Black-and-white Warbler will look the same whether you photograph it in color or monotone.

But what this tiny bird lacks in dazzle it makes up for in razzle-dazzle. If warblers fielded an all-star soccer team, the Black-and-white would be George Best (or Lionel Messi, for you younger soccer fans). It would dribble around among a crowd of defenders, pop through the line, do a handstand and then—while still upside down—head the ball between the legs of the keeper. Seriously, when it's in all-out insect-hunting mode the Black-and-white Warbler doesn't fly through trees, it races along the branches, spinning in circles around every branch of the tree, a head fake here, a quick change of pace, then a dead stop, then upside down, sideways. It's a blur of constant motion and a marvel to watch. And a real challenge to photograph!


The books tell me that this bird has a genetic advantage over the other soccer playing warblers. Its hind claw is extra long, giving it added grip when scampering straight down the trunk of a tree or hanging upside down on a horizontal branch. (In one photo you can see that extra-long hind claw.)

Turns out the Black-and-white Warbler is not so nondescript after all!


Dan's Feathursday Feature is a weekly contribution to the COS blog featuring the thoughts, insights and pictures of Chicago birder, Dan Lory on birds of the Chicago region.