[CT Birds] Listener beware. A Southington Cerulean turned into a Black-throated Blue

Gregory Hanisek ctgregh at gmail.com
Sun Jun 10 19:55:55 EDT 2018

This is a good discussion, and covers an area that especially interests me.
First I would say that the issue doesn't have to be cut so fine - B-t Blue
and Cerulean can sound very much alike - period. I learned that back in my
World Series of Birding days in NJ, when recordings of specific song types
of a given species were pretty much unavailable and unknown. One of my team
members, one of the best ear birders I've ever met, and I had some good
arguments until we straightened things out. I always cringe a little bit
when newer birders are IDing species with which they're not very familiar -
saying, "It sounded exactly like xyz recording." I've led 2 field trips
over the past week to Mohawk Mt., a great place to find and listen to a
nice array of breeding warblers. I would say that most species that we
heard multiple times seldom sounded "exactly" alike. Warblers throw in
enough variation before "song types" even come into play. That's why I
think it's maybe a bit of wishful thinking that you're going to winnow
things down to song types on a consistent basis.

These 2 birds occur in very different habitats, and when their habitats
abut, where they might at a place like River Road in Kent, they occupy
different niches. So a big part of IDing a bird by song is knowing when and
where a song you think you recognize is out of place - either by habitat or
by season. We always like to get a eye on every bird we hear, but it's not
going to happen. So you want to make the extra effort to see a bird when
you realize you're in the wrong place or at the wrong time. Jack reacted
that way, which was good birding.

So bottom line - keeping going out and listening. Hearing and seeing a lot
of known-ID birds is the best way to learn - far superior to tapes in more
or less of a vacuum. And please, if you hear an E Wood-Pewee in March,
remember Starings can do a spot-on imitation:)

Greg Hanisek

On Sun, Jun 10, 2018 at 7:26 PM, Hugh Whelan via CTBirds <
ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> wrote:

> Hi Jack,
> Thank you for your post. In full disclosure before I ask my questions I
> should note: (1) I recorded a "Cerulean A3 song" along Hurricane Brook Road
> north of East Hartland (far north CT) today but did not see the bird (and
> it is an "unrecorded" species there); (2) I also recorded Black Throated
> Blue Warbler songs there; and (3) I am a relatively new birder in my first
> year and generally defer to the wisdom of those most experienced.
> So my questions:
> (1) Did you actually see the BTBW sing the Cerulean A3 song and record it
> (i.e., did you record a sonogram and compare)? Or did you find a BTBW soon
> after hearing the Cerulean A3 song in a place where there are alos BTBW?
> (2) I am curious if you think The Warbler Guide is wrong? The app lists
> similar songs to the Cerulean A3 song, but none sound very similar to the
> A3 song (it only lists Northern Parula Type B1 and Blackburnian Type A)?
> (3) Have you contacted Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle to tell them you
> think a BTBW sings an exact copy of the CERW A3 song?
> I am just trying to learn and minimize my ID mistakes.
> Kind regards,
> Hugh Whelan
> On Sun, Jun 10, 2018 at 3:29 PM Jack Swatt via CTBirds <
> ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> wrote:
> >  To add to Aaron Dollar's post about the King Rail/Clapper Rail mimicry,
> > this past week I was doing some altasing at the ridge line on top of
> > Compounce Mt in Southington, a place I regularly get Worm-eating
> Warblers,
> > Prairie Warblers and occasional Hoodeds.  I heard a Cerulean song and was
> > hopeful to add this species to the census.  The song is one that is
> > frequently sung by Black-throated Blue Warblers up north (Cerulean A3
> song
> > in The Warbler Guide) so I tracked it down and sure enough, it was a
> > Black-throated Blue singing it.  I'll still take a BTBlue in Southington
> as
> > this seems outside it's normal range, but it serves as added warning
> about
> > identification by song alone.  Sometimes you have to see the bird to get
> a
> > correct ID.
> > Jack Swatt
> > Wolcott
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> --
> Hugh Whelan
> C: 860-480-4640
> _______________________________________________
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