July 15, 2014

In the Pines

A soundtrack for this blog post
I'm not generally a fan of using audio playback of birdsongs out in the field. I'll just lead with that.
I don't like to aggravate breeding birds who migrate thousands of miles to find a nice habitat where they'll try to establish their territory, defend it, attract a mate and then work hard to raise their young before flying back south. That seems like a lot of work to me and I respect hard work. That said, sometimes annoying a bird can be fun.

While I'm admitting things, I'll also say that I'm not great at birding by ear...yet, but I am improving thanks to apps like Larkwire and iBirdPro. And I practise almost every time I'm outside. So a few weeks ago I was up at the lake, I was listening to the birds I could hear...the Chickadees...the Red-eyed Vireo...the Belted Kingfisher..., but there was one I didn't recognize. I had a pretty good hunch it was a warbler (which in itself is a pretty big leap from where I was last year), but I couldn't say which one.

I tried to find the bird. He seemed to like singing from a small (but tall) group of pine trees right next to the cottage, but every time I went outside to look for him, he'd stop. I sat patiently once for 10-15 minutes, waiting for him to get used to me and start up again, but he never did. Maybe he'd flown off, I thought, but as soon as I went inside he started up again. I went to my apps and the closest thing I could come up with was the Orange-crowned Warbler, which didn't seem likely for Central Ontario in June, but I thought I'd head outside and try to play it. If this bird was going to be like that, I didn't feel too bad about using a little playback on him.

Within seconds I heard something small zipping in the trees above me. Annoyed. Irritated. Looking for the intruder.

It was a Pine Warbler reacting to my Orange-crowned Warbler song(!) I had thought a warbler would only react like that to a rival call of it's own species. Just to make sure I wasn't misidentifying him, I played the Pine Warbler song in Larkwire and stood back from my iPad with my camera. He got possibly even more irritated, but he also gave me some of the better Pine Warbler shots I've managed yet.

I eventually found the actual singer who had been tormenting me all weekend. I caught him singing up in the pines. It was a Yellow-rumped Warbler (much more likely than Orange-crowned) and this individual's song most resembles the third (of nine) recordings on iBirdPro so I don't feel too bad for not getting it right off, but I guess I do feel a little bad for pissing off that Pine Warbler.

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