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Night migration : Shorebirds at the window !

Night migration : Shorebirds at the window !

Who hasn’t seen this animation from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology showing birds taking off a few minutes after the sunset ?   Not only birds do migrate at night, but this migration can be MASSIVE. Moreover, most of the species that migrate at night can rarely be seen migrating in daylight : Shorebirds, Rails, Warblers…Which means that we’re just missing thousands of birds that are flying over us while we can’t see them ! Fortunately, many species are vocal enough…

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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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