I’ve seen the Swainson’s thrush and Swainson’s hawk. My goal last weekend was to hear and see a Swainson’s warbler.
To begin with, Swainson’s warblers don’t breed in Pennsylvania. The northernmost corner of their range is a 3.5 hour drive from Pittsburgh. Three of us went to New River Gorge, West Virginia.
We found his breeding habitat …
Breeds in southern forests with thick undergrowth, especially canebrakes and floodplain forests in lowlands and rhododendron-mountain laurel in the Appalachians.from species account at All About Birds
… and stood quietly in a rhododendron thicket where he’s known to breed. We listened for this.
Listening is important. Swainson’s warblers skulk in shadowy, deep thickets and are rarely seen.
We heard one (“He’s in there!”) but he never came out.
Fortunately listening counts.
(photos and maps from Wikimedia Commons, sound from Xeno Canto; click on the captions to see the originals)
p.s. Here’s how thick the rhododendrons are in West Virginia, in a blog post by Samuel Taylor.