“No differences known,” says the Sibley guide about the voices of Black and Pigeon Guillemots. This isn’t quite true. But the differences certainly are not widely known.
The purpose of this blog post is to draw attention to one of the least known Empidonax species, one that has yet to appear in the ABA area, but is high on the list of many a birder as a potential vagrant. The bird I am speaking of is Pine Flycatcher (Empidonax affinis). An inhabitant of montane forests from just shy of the Arizona border to northern Central America, it favors (as one would expect) pine-dominated woodland.
We were excited to arrive at Parque Natural Mexiquillo before the break of dawn in June, to look for waterfall-loving swifts.
It’s not every day that you photograph and audio record a bird that has never been photographed or audio recorded before.
Of late, I’ve had occasion to question the conventional wisdom that Bushtits do not sing.
But ask a recordist about the toughest birds in the ABA area and you’ll get a very different list. Most of the species that I talk about below aren’t really “hard” birds to see. Some of them can be downright common in the right areas. But what makes a bird hard to record can be quite different than what makes it hard to find.
Waxwings have some of the simplest repertoires of all passerines, with no true “song”, or at least none that has been documented. And even their calls are typically variations on the same trill. Or so I thought.
What was once a bird that made just a few simple, short chips or churrs suddenly has a large and varied repertoire that includes complicated aerial acrobatics and sounds as varied as low-pitched hooting to amazingly insect-like twittering. The first time I stood out on the tundra in Alaska I was blown away by everything I was seeing and hearing, and I’ve never looked at shorebirds the same way again.
On the field marks and audio cues that separate nominate Brewer’s Sparrows from the “Timberline” subspecies.
I’m starting to think that voice is actually a very good character — maybe the best field character — for separating these two species.