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Collared Flycatcher : One bird, a thousand sounds

Collared Flycatcher : One bird, a thousand sounds

Two weeks ago, we came across a Collared Flycatcher’s (Ficedula albicollis) nest in Zommange, Lorraine, France. There’s a small population established in these tall old forests, where the species reaches its Westernmost breeding range. Collared Flycatcher remains a rare bird in France, both during migration and in the breeding season, so that birders from Western Europe are not necessarily familiar with its vocalizations.   Watching Collared Flycatchers on their nest was a good opportunity to explore this notion of “vocal repertoire” that we often…

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Identification of an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler in France

Identification of an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler in France

I couldn’t dream of a better opportunity to write about sonogram analysis !   Last Sunday, we spotted a “weird” Bonelli’s warbler as we were birding together in Vic-la-Gardiole (34, France). Actually, the only real “weird” thing about this bird was that it was alone in the middle of the beach, and that it was quite late for Bonelli’s migration on the coast. It looked dull, but we would probably have written it down as Western with no regret if it was in…

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Willow warblers: song-switchers and mixed singers

Willow warblers: song-switchers and mixed singers

One of the first things that a birder in Europe learns when getting to grips with the seperation of Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) and Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) in the field is the fact that both species have very distinct songs from each other, enabling easy identification. The song of the Willow Warbler is a musical descending series of notes, whereas that of Common Chiffchaff is an almost stuttering series that is responsible for the species’ onomatopoeic common name in several…

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Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and Garden warbler (Sylvia borin) song identification

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and Garden warbler (Sylvia borin) song identification

Two very common species, but still a classical identification issue even for experienced birders !   Structure of  the song and differences with Mediterranean warblers : Both species have a rich whistling song including an astonishing variety of notes. While typical songs are quite easy to identify, the main confusion is caused by subsongs produced by both species. Hence, the challenge is to find keys to identify sub-singers. A first look at the structure of the sound shows that those warbling songs are unique among European birds, so that…

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Identification of pluvialis plovers

Identification of pluvialis plovers

In this article we’re going to deal with the sound identification of the four “Pluvialis” plover : Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola) American Golden plover (Pluvialis dominica) Eurasian Golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria) Pacific Golden plover (Pluvialis fulva) The four species produce diagnostic flight calls and alarm calls. As the visual identification is often difficult (the best criteria being the axillaries and underwing covert), vocalizations can help to confirm the identification. 1.Grey plover The call is a long continuous whistling call : A…

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