Potential Ovenbird 5/30/2021, South Fork Eel

Philip Georgakakos

Dear Mendo birders,

On 5-30-2021 I heard an unfamiliar song while out conducting some fish surveys on the upper South Fork Eel River. The song came from thick vegetation along the riparian corridor and repeated about every 10 seconds for the roughly ten minutes I tried to locate it. Song was repeated syllables with a warbler tone that lasted for around 3 seconds. Phonetically, I heard "zeetle zeetle zeetle zeetle....", but written descriptions are only so useful. I also recorded this elusive songster, you can find the recording on my ebird list for the day: https://ebird.org/checklist/S89463816. The bird flew across the river at one point, but I was in a wetsuit and mask, without binos, so not great conditions to get a good enough look for ID. I shared this recording with a few friends who independently suggested the possibility of Ovenbird. Maybe a partial song of a Nashville Warbler? If you have thoughts, please send them my way.

Unfortunately, this would be a very challenging bird to chase. It was really active, moving through the dense veg at a steady pace. Also, this reach of river is very difficult to access. It would probably require a 10+ mile hike, much along the river corridor.

Even though this bird is difficult to chase, I hope many of you have time to get out over the next few weeks. I've been working at and around UC Berkeley's Angelo Coast Range Reserve, off Wilderness Lodge Rd, as a graduate student and now Postdoctoral researcher since 2013. This can be a fun spot to bird, and is open to public walk-in day use. However, dogs are not allowed on the reserve. Over the last week I've encountered nesting American Dippers and a female Common Merganser shepherding a group of fresh ducklings. Please be respectful of these breeding birds as they try to raise young. If you notice any change in their behavior or they are watching you, you're probably too close and adding stress to their already stressful tasks. Other sections of the Eel can also be great. If you'd like details on visiting the reserve or want to connect about good river spots to check out feel free to shoot me an email.

best wishes, 
Phil Georgakakos
Oakland & UC Berkeley Angelo Coast Range Reserve

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