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Some food for thoughts on bird imitations

Some food for thoughts on bird imitations

I have been recording a few unexpected imitations recently. Here are some surprising examples and some food for thoughts on this topic. Three examples : First let’s start with a well known imitator : This Calandra Lark was imitating not less than 20 different species, including Meadow Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Richard’s Pipit, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Skylark, Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, Linnet or Serin. Actually, this list of imitation fits pretty well to the list of the birds we have…

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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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A tale of three chiffchaffs

A tale of three chiffchaffs

Once upon a time… three little chiffchaffs arising confusion and perplexity among the birding community.     Yeah… They look quite similar, and that’s the problem. Back in 1996 there was virtually a single species of chiffchaff in mainland Europe. We had the widespread Common chiffchaff (Phylloscsopus collybita) in all Europe, and birds form the Iberian Peninsula were just considered as subspecies with a remarkably different song. Now it has been genetically proven that the Iberian chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus) fully deserves its specific…

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The wagtail conundrum

The wagtail conundrum

Yellow wagtail’s phylogeny is confusing : there are many subspecies, that are visually much different from each other. Some taxa like tschutschensis are now often considered as distinct species, and Citrine wagtail (Motacilla citreola) forms a cryptic species complex with flava (i.e there are hybrids). Interestingly, the flight calls of these taxa are also different. Even if much caution must be taken regarding a sound-based subspecific identification, the following sonograms should help to point out some differences. Beware of song notes that can be…

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