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Swainson's Warbler

More often heard than seen...

On a fine May morning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a song issues from within a rhododendron thicket. It's a Swainson's Warbler — one of North America's shyest birds. These birds forage quietly on the ground, flipping over leaves to expose and capture insects. They scurry away, calling in alarm when big-footed humans invade their shadowy habitat. They're amazingly good at disappearing in rapid flight through the tangled understory. On their wintering grounds, in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, they're even harder to find, because they don't sing in winter. Swainson's Warblers do, however, respond aggressively to a recording of their own song. That's how ornithologists confirmed the presence of these elusive warblers, and discovered a vital connection between the two mountain forests, a thousand miles apart.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Swainson’s Warbler, Shyest Bird in the Forest

Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote.

[Swainson’s Warbler song]

On a fine May morning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a song issues from within a rhododendron thicket. But try as you may, you can’t see the singer. It sounds like a warbler – many breed in this lush mountain habitat. Black-throated Blue Warblers for example, [Song of Black-throated Blue Warbler], American Redstarts [Song of American Redstart], and Hooded Warblers [Song of Hooded Warbler].

But no, it’s a Swainson’s Warbler – one of North America’s shyest birds. [Repeat song of Swainson’s Warbler]. Small and brown, these birds forage quietly on the ground, flipping over leaves to expose and capture insects. They scurry away, calling in alarm when big-footed humans invade their shadowy habitat [Swainson’s Warbler alarm calls]. They’re amazingly good at disappearing in rapid flight through the tangled understory.

On their wintering grounds, in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, they’re even harder to find, because they don’t sing in winter. There, instead, you might hear a Rufous-throated Solitaire, singing in the dense mountain forest. [Song of the Rufous-throated Solitaire] Swainson’s Warblers do, however, respond aggressively [alarm call of Swainson’s Warbler] to a recording of their own song.
That’s how ornithologists confirmed the presence of these elusive warblers, and discovered a vital connection between the two mountain forests, a thousand miles apart. [Swainson’s Warbler song]

Thank you for listening to BirdNote. I’m Mary McCann.

###


Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song and alarm call of Swainson’s Warbler 23827 recorded by T.A. Parker III; song of Black-throated Blue Warbler 140091 recorded by M. Medler; American Redstart 140095 M. Medler; Hooded Warbler 79440 recorded by W.L. Hershberger; Rufous-throated Solitaire 35351 recorded T.A. Parker III.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org     May 2017   Narrator: Mary McCann


ID# SWWA-01-2012-05-27        http://jcdt.org.jm/html

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