Spring Bird Alert No. 3
May 18, 2017
Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust
Kris Rowe photo 
Exuberant Birds! 

We're getting reports of birds arriving from all over: orioles in Bath; hummers in Easton, in Landaff scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, and rose-breasted grosbeaks, redstart and brown thrasher in Sugar Hill.

The warblers are finally coming in droves: chestnut-sided, magnolia, blackburnian, and common yellow throat all here. 

Overnight, red-eyed vireoleast flycatcher and catbird showed up. I'm now hearing orioles and tanagers at our 1300-foot elevation. Walking walking ACT's Gale Family Forest In Lyman yesterday, we heard veery and parula warblers for the first time this year.  

Below are two groups of birds with very different song styles:  "high squeakies" - warblers with similar thin high songs that are easily confused; and the most melodious of all, our "three tenors" - the thrushes. 

Send us your sightings (what and where to rbrown@aconservationtrust.org ) and we'll include them in the next alert. 

Have fun! 
Rebecca Brown
Rebecca Brown                                                                                        
Executive Director

P.S. Does anyone have digital bird songs that we can imbed in the Bird Alert? Please let us know!  Otherwise, the website All About Birds has great audio recordings and information, and a go-to phone app for identifications and song is Audubon Birds.

Do you know someone who'd like the Bird Alert?

The High Squeakies

Blackburnian Warbler 

This brilliant orange-throated bird is truly one of the jewels of the northern forest. Typically high up in deciduous trees, it can be hard to spot but well worth the effort. Its song is what you want to listen for, and then find the singer.  

Its song is a high pitched zip, zip, zip, titititi, tseeee that trails off to inaudible.


Black-and-white Warbler  

Its name says it all for  identification, once you find them. Like so many warblers, you'll hear them before you see them. Its high thin song is likened to a squeaky wheel, all at one pitch.

Like nuthatches, black-and white warbler forages along tree trunks and branches, often in the middle layers of the forest. It nests in the leaf litter of the forest floor. It's one of our earliest returning warblers.

National Wildlife Federation/Michael Henry 
Cape May Warbler 

Its high thin voice may be confused with black-and-white warbler or blackburnian. It's a bird of the boreal forest -  a good place to find them is at Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge in Whitefield and Jefferson. 

Look for them in and around spruce trees. They nest near the tops and they eat spruce budworms. 

Keep the Bird Alert Flying! 

The Three Tenors

Hermit Thrush

The first of our thrushes to arrive, I find its lovely song haunting and bittersweet. It heralds spring, but also marks the passage of time. 

All three of our common thrushes live in mature mixed hardwood/coniferous forests; if you're lucky you might hear and see all within a close distance. Despite its name, the hermit seems quite a curious bird, and will hang out quite close and watch you as you watch it. Veery and wood thrush keep more to themselves. 

Wood Thrush

Described as flutelike, the wood thrush ee-oh-lay song can have many variations, but often ends with a distinctly emphatic burst. The hermit thrush song, in contrast, trails off into space. 

The wood thrush, like the other thrushes here, has two parts to its voice box, and can sing through them simultaneously, in harmony or in contrast. It's like a duet with itself. 


The veery is the last of the thrushes to arrive and they've just started showing up. They're named for their voice, a cascade of "veer" sounds.  

At first glance it's easy to confuse these three thrushes. Note the fainter streaks on  the veery's breast compared to the hermit thrush; the wood thrush chest is spotted.  

Swainson's  Thrush

Swainson's is a higher elevation thrush, so I don't consider it with the common "three tenors" we have in the woods right outside our homes. Get above about 2,000 feet and you're sure to hear its upward spiraling song. 

But one was in our neighborhood for a couple of weeks last summer, so you never know. If you're hiking a 4,000-footer, you may hear the elusive and uncommon  Bicknell's thrush