In late morning on Monday, May 26, I observed a female Cerulean Warbler building a nest about 50 feet up on the branch of an oak tree almost directly over the trail about 100 feet south of trail marker 18 in Murphy-Hanrehan Regional Park. Over a 10 minute period, she returned to the nest location five times, apparently bringing nesting material and shaping the nest as she sat on it. A male Cerulean Warbler was singing nearby, as was a Blue-winged Warbler. The section of the trail where the nest is located is open for hiking and birding. According to Bruce Fall of the University of Minnesota, the foremost expert on the birds of Murphy-Hanrehan Regional Park, it appears that this is the first documented nest for Cerulean Warbler in the park. I am not certain if a nest of this species has been found previously in Scott County.
On the same day I also saw a male Hooded Warbler and heard him singing just off the south side of the trail about 100 feet east of trail marker 10 (a Blue-winged Warbler, Veery, and Willow Flycatcher were all singing nearby), and I heard another Hooded Warbler singing north of the trail between trail markers 14 and 15. Once again, the areas where these birds were observed are open for hiking and birding. The latter location is easily accessed from the road along the northeast section of Murphy Lake. From the road take the horse trail for a few hundred feet to trail marker 14. Accessing trail markers 10 and 18 involve longer walks into the interior of the park. In the half mile of trail between trail markers 18 and 10, I also observed six male Scarlet Tanagers, several of which were singing.
If you look for these birds, please do not play tapes or pursue them off the trails. Cerulean Warbler males react very aggressively to tapes and remain agitated for quite some time after tapes are played. Please remember that both the Cerulean Warbler and Hooded Warbler are designated as Special Concern status on the State of MN Endangered Species list. Tape playing or otherwise disturbing these species is strongly discouraged. Take some insect repellent, as you may need it.
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