Monday, April 8, 2013

Common Yellowthroat

You’re likely to meet nice people when you go out looking for birds…almost always happens.  At least that has been my experience.

I found this Common Yellowthroat along a kid-crowded Huntington Beach State Park hiking trail in South Carolina.  I didn’t actually find the bird myself, Lou Skrabec did.  At first, he didn’t really see this secretive bird either.  He heard it and, recognizing the song, he waited for the Common Yellowthroat to come out of hiding.

Lou is a middle school math teacher from Greensboro, North Carolina with a strong interest in birds and the commendable trait of sharing his bird knowledge.  We met by coincidence in the parking lot shortly after sunrise.  He is familiar with Huntington Beach and he showed me the bird-friendly places he knew. We hiked ten miles (a math teacher’s mile estimate) searching for birds. We saw and I photographed a dozen new species and hundreds of birds in total.

The Common Yellowthroat is a small, bouncy, flighty bird, not given to pose for photographs.  Hunted by Merlins, Loggerhead Shrikes and even largemouth bass, he hides in thick reeds and is constantly on guard.  To find one you’ll have to wait and then be satisfied with only a brief glimpse.  That’s all you may get, but in birding, birds dictate the terms. 

However, if you recognize the song of a hidden bird you can win at this game of hide and seek. You’ll know when you should wait and when to move on, but it’s not easy.  Recognizing more than a few common bird songs is a skill level I have yet to achieve. 

That is one of the advantages of birding with an experienced birder.  Their knowledge and field experience is helpful in finding and uncovering new and interesting birds.  I’ve accepted many field invitations from experienced birders, like Lou, and I appreciate them sharing their knowledge.  A hike on a sunny day to look for birds is always enjoyable, but to recognize the song he’s singing is delightful.


Translated into English the Common Yellowthroat’s song goes: “wich-t-ty, wich-t-ty, wich-t-ty”. 
You can hear the actual song for yourself at:
credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology