I hear the soft song no louder than a cricket, and I look up at the oak-canopy silhouette of the small warbler. The warbler, a northern parula, moves to a sunnier branch high up. I stop to study him, but he’s off—resuming his song as he lands down on the other side of the creek.
Should I follow, try to get a better glimpse of his lemon yellow throat and maybe if I can get near enough the reddish band across his chest? The parula is the smallest of our wood warblers. This male is the first I’ve seen here. The northern parula breeds from southeastern Canada to Gulf Coast, and winters from southern Florida southward into tropics. But the warbler is a permanent year-round resident here at Myakka River State Park.
I let him watch me from a safe distance, and I continue hiking on. Maybe we’ll cross paths again.