24 June 2024


Friday, May 30th, 2014
Chestnut-sided Warbler, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 30 May 2014.

Chestnut-sided Warbler.

I love birdsong. Naturally, I suppose, being a bird listener—and a human being with ears that register most species’ vocalizations—but I’m really attuned to birdsong. No, I mean really.

Gray Catbird, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 30 May 2014.

Gray Catbird.

Which is no doubt the reason I’m so fascinated with even slight variations on the usual themes. I still recall one spring years ago when I heard a White-throated Sparrow whose voice started with the usual “Old Sam Peabody…” and then, instead of continuing on a steady pitch, took off into the stratosphere: “…Peabody, peaBODY, PEABODY!” I also remember three times at Beech Hill when I heard completely unfamiliar songs, chased down the birds, and they were completely familiar birds whose songs had gotten somehow completely confused. (Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green Warbler, Eastern Towhee.) No seriously—you would not have recognized them.

Just the other day I was watching/listening to a chickadee singing “Fee-bee!” over and over when, unexpectedly, it sang a “Fee-bee!” about two full steps lower than the ones it had been singing, then, after that aberrant one, went back to its original pitch.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is how certain wood-warbler change their tunes mid-season. Have done some research on this, and apparently the males of these species have an early song—invariably their most distinctive, familiar one—meant to attract females and a later-season song that declares territory. I’ve noticed this in Black-and-white Warblers, Yellow Warblers, and Chestnut-sided Warblers. Another thing these guys do when singing the later-season song (a.k.a., Type II song) is perch in one place to sing it. Contrast this with their flitting about like crazy when singing their early-season love songs.

Today it was a Chestnut-sided Warbler. It sat there as I took its photo, then a video, and sang a sort of rambling, warbling jumble of notes instead of its distinctive “Pleased, pleased, pleased to MEET you!” I.e., its Type II song—or, in this species’ case, its unaccented-ending (UE) song. Here’s the video.

Interesting and/or entertaining sightings today included an upside-down Red-bellied Woodpecker, three Canada Geese flying over in the fog, a random Common Grackle in the fog, a pair of silent Common Ravens in the fog, and hummingbirds flitting all about the wood-fringes where the high-bush blueberries are blooming.

Oh, and I also heard my first crickets of the year.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 30 May 2014.

Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Cold today still, but I imagine it’ll finally warm up at some point, as the warblers sing their B-sides.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 6 a.m., I hiked all trails.

1. Chestnut-sided Warbler**
2. Red-eyed Vireo** (v)
3. Ovenbird
4. American Robin*
5. Black-throated Green Warbler (v)
6. Eastern Towhee
7. Common Yellowthroat**
8. Black-and-white Warbler**
9. Hairy Woodpecker
10. American Crow*
11. American Redstart**
12. Gray Catbird
13. American Goldfinch
14. Mourning Dove*
15. Great Crested Flycatcher (v)
16. Nashville Warbler (v)
17. Alder Flycatcher
18. Veery (v)
19. White-throated Sparrow (v)
20. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
21. Black-capped Chickadee
22. Canada Goose
23. Song Sparrow**
24. Yellow Warbler**
25. Field Sparrow (v)
26. Tree Swallow (v)
27. Pileated Woodpecker (v)
28. Wood Thrush (v)
29. Eastern Phoebe
30. Common Raven
31. Chipping Sparrow (v)
32. Common Grackle
33. Scarlet Tanager (v)
34. Cedar Waxwing (v)
35. Red-bellied Woodpecker
36. Osprey


37. Herring Gull
38. European Starling

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere
†First-of-year bird


Blueberry blossoms, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 30 May 2014.

Blueberry blossoms.

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Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson

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