A Song for August 03

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I heard this song from the leafy underbrush 10 slippery meters from the well-maintained trail. It had to be a Northern Waterthrush, I thought, because the number of warblers here in Alaska is so small. That may be a little surprising. The northwoods are supposed to be dripping with warblers, species upon species, and they are, farther east. But, as it turns out, one after another, the warblers drop out as you head northwestward from Duluth to Fairbanks. This is, I think, an unfinished story. The birds, and mamals, and trees, etc., of northern forests have had only ten millenia or so to populate the land liberated by the recession of the continental ice sheet. Some, like the Yellow Warbler and the Blackpoll Warbler have already made it to Nome; others, such as the Palm Warbler and Bay-breasted Warbler, have not made it yet, but that doesn't mean they won't. The post-glacial world is young, and the ranges of species are far from equilibrial.

So, even though these songs don't look perfect for Northern Waterthrush, there's nothing else they could be. And to top it off, I finally saw a bird, for about one second, who obligingly did a deep-knee-bend. Not so, the Blackpoll. You see a very high trill at the 10-second mark of the sound above. The other two warblers with very high voices, the Bay-breasted and Cape May Warblers, are among the aforementioned dropouts. And that high trill looks more like a Blackpoll song anyway. Of course, I did not hear it at the time, but the beauty of recordings is that I can see it right now.

If you are wondering what happened to the nutcracker, go to 8/4.

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Email: web at archmcallum.com

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.