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Great point, Daniel.
Thanks for bringing this up. I’ve certainly gotten hyped up before and been completely certain of an ID only to realize later I was in error. The beauty of birding is that as long as we let it teach us we can continue to learn.
Perennially a student,
On Nov 22, 2021, at 09:31, Bob Toleno <bob@...> wrote:
Juli Chamberlin, Scott & Linda Terrill, and i were the observers who heard the Gray Catbird yesterday and we were all confident in the ID. First, the quality of the sound, though somewhat similarly nasal, was noticeably "raspier" than a sapsucker. Scott especially has heard a huge number of catbirds and sapsuckers calling and would be unlikely to confuse the two. Also, the 4-5 calls we heard came from below us, near ground level, from low dense vegetation at the edge of the pond, which is not a location i would expect to hear a sapsucker calling from. It is unfortunate that catbirds are usually so skulky, because we all really wanted to see this bird, and spent nearly an hour waiting at that spot hoping it would show itself.
Gray Catbird activity has been pretty exciting in SF this fall. I regret not chasing at a time when others could help me find the little mimic. I did go for it last Friday morning as it had been heard by multiple folks away from the reservoir. Instead of the catbird, I refound the same probably hybrid Red-naped Sapsucker in the Guatemalan Fir that others have seen in that area. What was really exciting is that it was calling; sapsuckers have a mew call. Bummed about no catbird but pumped for my first ever HEARD Red-naped (even Red-breasted seem hard to catch in the vocal act), I headed for the north exit. I was steps from the gate when I heard that same mew call behind me and then heard the mew fly east. I searched the Ancient Plant boardwalk behind the pond and located a different Red-naped Sapsucker which continued to vocalize (I'm guessing this is the bird that is normally on the other side of the hill from the boardwalk in the fragrance garden).
I believe the catbird has not been seen in approximately two weeks and to me Gray Catbird calls sound pretty close to Red-naped Sapsucker calls. Just yesterday there were more reports of heard Gray Catbird in the exact spot (the Ancient Plants boardwalk) where the sapsucker was calling on Friday. Are we possibly misidentifying these calls? I certainly hope the catbird is still around and that both rarities are gifting us there voices. Happy searching!
Dan Scali, sf