A Song for July 17

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The Common Yellowthroat's song is one of the easiest American birdsongs to learn and remember. Because the species is indeed common--in freshwater marshes, bogs, and wet prairies--across North America, that memory can come in handy. First, it is a series of three or four identical phrases. I trust you can see that in the image above. Second, each phrase is complex and rather slow, aptly transliterated as witch-i-ta. These two characteristics eliminate just about everything but the yellowthroat and the Carolina Wren. So, third, the yellowthroat's song is higher, with greater bandwidth than the wren's, making it sound sweeter. The beginning or ending phrase may be truncated, making it a little difficult to pick up the recurring pattern, but a few repeats of the song should make that clear. Finally, each bird has only one song-type, while the Carolina Wren has many.

You can find birds to watch and listen to almost anywhere, as today's selection shows. I visited the wetlands beside a huge shopping complex in hopes of finding Willow Flycatchers, which had been seen there in the spring. The flycatchers had in all likelihood moved north, but wetlands are seldom devoid of birds, and the yellowthroats put on a show for free. The bird above is Number 3. Before him, birds 1 and 2 song-matched for a while. A bit of their duel is below. Birds 1 and 3 used the same song-type; bird 2's is very slightly different.

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Nathan D. Pieplow. 2017. Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Nathan D. Pieplow. 2019. Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Western North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Donald Kroodsma. 2005. The Singing Life of Birds. Houghton Mifflin.