Thursday, May 29, 2014

Perils of ear birding

So the other day, I was at east end of Turtle Pond, contemplating gong to the Ramble. Then I hear a bird singing somewhere on the north shore, couldn't tell if it was in the reeds on the shoreline, or in a tree. "Pizza pizza!" it called, high and crisp. "Pizza pizza!"

That was odd. What sings like that? It was the wrong cadence for an Acadian Flycatcher--too quick and not squeaky enough. It wasn't a Titmouse's sharp "peter peter" or an Ovenbird's eager "teachER teachER". Must be some bird whose song I don't know--no shortage of those. So I circled around to check it out.

It was down in the reeds at the water's edge. I couldn't even see the plants moving, just heard the song. The bird was moving west. I followed it, threading my way among sunbathers and picnickers on the lawn. I wonder what they thought I was doing.

After about twenty yards and twenty minutes, it flew out for a moment. Little bird, brown back, maybe some kind of light streak on the back of the head? A flash and back into the reeds. Some kind of wren?

It stayed hidden, but moved a little faster. Only a few minutes later we were nearly at the west edge. There are a couple of pines there, and then a pier. It wouldn't be able to move under cover much longer.

So it didn't. The bird went back east, singing all the way. I spared a glance at the warblers in the pines, and followed again. I really wanted to know who this bird was.

We got back to the place where it flew out before. It did it again, but this time went up into a tree. Aha! I got my binoculars up fast.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Common Yellowthroat singing, Central Park

A Common Yellowthroat? What, now? They don't sing like that, they sing a rapid, light "Wichita Wichita Wichita Wichita".

"What the hell, little bird?" I said to him. "That's not your song."

"Pizza Pizza!" The Yellowthroat replied, and dove back into the reeds.

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