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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Early bird

Last weekend I was watching a mixed foraging flock of birds in the Bodega Dunes Campground.  There were Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hutton's Vireos, Townsend's Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Pine Siskins all feeding in a few cypress trees.

Here's a photo of one of the Hutton's Vireos:

A Hutton's Vireo started singing (I think), so I started to record the song.  I say "I think"  because it sounded different from the more typical song I've been hearing near our house.  This is a little frustrating for me, as it reveals my lack of experience with this classic West Coast species.  

In Sebastopol, I've been hearing a Hutton's Vireo sing a raspy, two-parted, ascending "zo-eet, zo-eet, zo-eet" over and over again.  But the song I heard in the campground was different.  Here it is.  [There's also a chickadee calling, and the foghorn, but ignore those for now.]  Remember to turn up your volume, especially because this is a quiet recording.

huvi by nhbh  

I wouldn't have described these phrases as two-parted.  And it seemed that each phrase was slightly descending.

I've read several different descriptions of Hutton's Vireo songs.  The best match so far for this song, at least to my ear, is David Sibley's in The Sibley Guide to Birds. One way that he writes out the song is trrweer...trrweer...trrweer.

An interesting thing I've learned about Hutton's Vireos: They start singing very early in the season, often in late winter.  Because of this, they're often missed during breeding bird surveys that take place later in the spring.  One account said that their singing in California peaks between early February and mid-April, so now's the time to be listening for them!

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