Date   

Re: The Bicknell/Gray-cheeked Thrush Dilema

David Martin <david@...>
 

Although I haven't done any quantitative analysis of thrush calls in my night flight recordings, my distinct impression is that the most common thrush call I record is Swainson's.  I get Grey-Cheeked regularly, but I have never recorded a call that that I would assign to Bicknell's.  The failure to record Bicknell's doubtless reflects the small population size of this species.  With only 125,000 Bicknell's  the chances that one will call while flying over one of my mics is low.

If I do get a candidate (and other night flight call recordists agree it is Bicknell's), I'll be sure to post it.
David Martin
Slingerlands, New York
http://naturebits.org
On 5/24/2014 9:56 PM, Will Raup Hoaryredpoll@... [hmbirds] wrote:


We live in an area that rarely gets overly complicated taxonomy issues.  However, the Bicknell's Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrush is tough one.  For many years the two species were considered as one, Gray-cheeked Thrush, with the Bicknell's Thrush as a sub-species.  Modern research not only showed that the Bicknell's Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrush populations don't overlap (Bicknell's is found in the Catskills, Adirondacks, Green, White Mountains, much of NW Maine into Quebec and Eastern Canada.  Gray-cheeked Thrush nests further north closer to the tree line), but also found that Bicknell's Thrush winter in Cuba, Hispanola and surrounding islands, while Gray-cheek winter in Northern South America.  Add in some slight vocalization differences and Bicknell's was elevated to full species status only in 1995.

From a historical perspective, it's tough.  With only 20 years of Bicknell's Thrush being a full species, there have only a been a few reports outside of known breeding sites in our area.  Bicknell's Thrush can be found primarily above 3,000 feet of elevation in Catskills and have been forced even higher as a result of climate change, which has allowed Swainson's Thrush to invade higher elevations in those areas as well.  The birds were formerly more widespread in the Catskills, and perhaps Warren County as well, as well as the Berkshire Mountains (Mt. Greylock) but have since been extripated.

Prior to 1995, few observers attempted to separate sightings of Gray-cheeked Thrush vs Bicknell's.  The overall number reports of the two species is very low, overlooked to the fact they prefer deeper woods (as opposed to wood edges like most of thrushes) and rarely sing or vocalize during migration (unlike Swainson's Thrush).  Nocturnal call monitoring however, shows these birds to be very common migrants overhead, but they don't seem to stop in our region, unless bad weather is involved.

ID wise, the best way to tell the two species apart is by vocalizations.  The songs and calls while similar to each other, are different.  Physically, the two species are difficult to distinguish in the field.  Even bird banders use wing chord measurements to help with identification.

As a result, when a Gray-cheeked type thrush is spotted, many observers use call play back for the birds reactions.  Leaving the ethics of such methods alone for now, both species will respond to each others calls.  As a result it should not be used alone to confirm identification.  If you hear the bird vocalize or if it vocalizes in response to playback, then species ID can be confirmed.  But silent birds, not matter how much they react or don't to a call, should be left as Bicknell's/Gray-cheeked Thrush.

In Vermont, Gray-cheeked Thrush is a state-wide review species.  In migration (April-May and September-October), non-vocalizing birds should be reported as Bicknell's/Gray-cheeked Thrush.  Reports of Bicknell's or Gray-cheeked Thrush should come with a description of the birds vocalizations (or a recording, which isn't hard to get with today's smartphones).  Birds May-August at appropriate habitat and Elevations should be reported as Bicknell's Thrush.

You can read more about how to report these birds at Vermont E-bird: http://ebird.org/content/vt/news/bicknells-gray-cheeked-thushes-how-to-submit-to-ebird/

As both Chair of Records for the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club and E-bird reviewer for the region, I plan on adopting a similar stance to these birds.

In migration (April-May and September-October), non-vocalizing birds should be reported as Bicknell's/Gray-cheeked Thrush.  If an ID can be made by the bird vocalizing, a good description of the birds calls or a recording are requested.

During Breeding Season (late May-August) in appropriate habitat and elevation, which in our area is limited to the Catskills of Southern and Western Greene County, reports should be submitted as Bickenll's Thrush.  Any reports outside of that limited area of Greene County, should come with full details, especially any vocalizations.

If anyone has some feedback about this particular issue, I'd love to hear it.  As things change and more data and records are collected, we can easily adjust things as we go.  There are likely fewer than 125,000 individual Bicknell's Thrushes left across their entire range and they face a lot of pressure both on the breeding and winter grounds.  As a species, that lives in and around our region, we know very little about their movements through our region, which hopefully with a little more searching and taking a little more time to document our sightings, we will have that better understanding of both species in our region.

Good Birding!

Will Raup
Albany, NY




The Bicknell/Gray-cheeked Thrush Dilema

Will Raup
 


We live in an area that rarely gets overly complicated taxonomy issues.  However, the Bicknell's Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrush is tough one.  For many years the two species were considered as one, Gray-cheeked Thrush, with the Bicknell's Thrush as a sub-species.  Modern research not only showed that the Bicknell's Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrush populations don't overlap (Bicknell's is found in the Catskills, Adirondacks, Green, White Mountains, much of NW Maine into Quebec and Eastern Canada.  Gray-cheeked Thrush nests further north closer to the tree line), but also found that Bicknell's Thrush winter in Cuba, Hispanola and surrounding islands, while Gray-cheek winter in Northern South America.  Add in some slight vocalization differences and Bicknell's was elevated to full species status only in 1995.

From a historical perspective, it's tough.  With only 20 years of Bicknell's Thrush being a full species, there have only a been a few reports outside of known breeding sites in our area.  Bicknell's Thrush can be found primarily above 3,000 feet of elevation in Catskills and have been forced even higher as a result of climate change, which has allowed Swainson's Thrush to invade higher elevations in those areas as well.  The birds were formerly more widespread in the Catskills, and perhaps Warren County as well, as well as the Berkshire Mountains (Mt. Greylock) but have since been extripated.

Prior to 1995, few observers attempted to separate sightings of Gray-cheeked Thrush vs Bicknell's.  The overall number reports of the two species is very low, overlooked to the fact they prefer deeper woods (as opposed to wood edges like most of thrushes) and rarely sing or vocalize during migration (unlike Swainson's Thrush).  Nocturnal call monitoring however, shows these birds to be very common migrants overhead, but they don't seem to stop in our region, unless bad weather is involved.

ID wise, the best way to tell the two species apart is by vocalizations.  The songs and calls while similar to each other, are different.  Physically, the two species are difficult to distinguish in the field.  Even bird banders use wing chord measurements to help with identification.

As a result, when a Gray-cheeked type thrush is spotted, many observers use call play back for the birds reactions.  Leaving the ethics of such methods alone for now, both species will respond to each others calls.  As a result it should not be used alone to confirm identification.  If you hear the bird vocalize or if it vocalizes in response to playback, then species ID can be confirmed.  But silent birds, not matter how much they react or don't to a call, should be left as Bicknell's/Gray-cheeked Thrush.

In Vermont, Gray-cheeked Thrush is a state-wide review species.  In migration (April-May and September-October), non-vocalizing birds should be reported as Bicknell's/Gray-cheeked Thrush.  Reports of Bicknell's or Gray-cheeked Thrush should come with a description of the birds vocalizations (or a recording, which isn't hard to get with today's smartphones).  Birds May-August at appropriate habitat and Elevations should be reported as Bicknell's Thrush.

You can read more about how to report these birds at Vermont E-bird: http://ebird.org/content/vt/news/bicknells-gray-cheeked-thushes-how-to-submit-to-ebird/

As both Chair of Records for the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club and E-bird reviewer for the region, I plan on adopting a similar stance to these birds.

In migration (April-May and September-October), non-vocalizing birds should be reported as Bicknell's/Gray-cheeked Thrush.  If an ID can be made by the bird vocalizing, a good description of the birds calls or a recording are requested.

During Breeding Season (late May-August) in appropriate habitat and elevation, which in our area is limited to the Catskills of Southern and Western Greene County, reports should be submitted as Bickenll's Thrush.  Any reports outside of that limited area of Greene County, should come with full details, especially any vocalizations.

If anyone has some feedback about this particular issue, I'd love to hear it.  As things change and more data and records are collected, we can easily adjust things as we go.  There are likely fewer than 125,000 individual Bicknell's Thrushes left across their entire range and they face a lot of pressure both on the breeding and winter grounds.  As a species, that lives in and around our region, we know very little about their movements through our region, which hopefully with a little more searching and taking a little more time to document our sightings, we will have that better understanding of both species in our region.

Good Birding!

Will Raup
Albany, NY



Thurman Birding along Hudson River

Scott Varney
 


Black-billed Cuckoo, West Sand Lake

Naomi Lloyd
 

On Thursday, 5/22, I had a Black-billed Cuckoo calling at the edge of the woods across from my house. FOY and yard bird #107!

Naomi

http://kestrelhill.wordpress.com/


Yard bird #100

ConserveBirds
 

I was pleased to hear, then observe, a Black-throated Blue Warbler in my yard as I was gardening this morning.  A nice milestone bird.  I also had an Osprey soaring overhead - most likely one of the pair that nests near the feeder dam on the Hudson behind my house.

Mona Bearor

So Glens Falls


Vischer Ferry-5/24 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Hooded Mergansers

neal.reilly
 

Hello all,

Walked at Vischer Ferry from 12:30 to around 3:30 today.  Highlights included an adult female Hooded Merganser with 7 young in an open area of the largest cattail marsh (on the right if one goes straight in from the Whipple Bridge), mating Yellow-billed Cuckoos, a Virginia Rail doing the grunt call and a singing Yellow-throated Vireo.  The young Hooded Mergansers matched the photo on the Cornell Lab's All About Birds web site with light cheeks contrasting with dark crowns.  There was no adult male Hooded Merganser in sight but the mother Hooded was very distinctive with her crested "hairdo".  The two Yellow-billed Cuckoos were perched on two sides of an elm on the far side of the main pool about 200 yards west of the Whipple bridge on the towpath.  One bird (the female) was raising and lowering its tail showing the undertail coverts and the white tail spots.  The other bird (the male) flew across and they mated.  Other birds included Marsh Wrens, Veerys, a Willow Flycatcher singing, and Wood Ducks with young.

Neal Reilly       


Orange House Finch - Colonie

Craig Driggs
 

I saw an orange male house finch at the Crossings in Colonie yesterday. It was with a small group of normal red-colored males. Craig Driggs


Five Rivers Bicknell's

Larry & Penny Alden
 

I think with the recent sighting of Bicknell's Thrush at Five Rivers, it might be a good time for people to review the ABA Code of Ethics (http://www.aba.org/about/ethics.html).  In particular,
 
"To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.

Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area."

The Bicknell's Thrush is just passing through our area on its way to its breeding grounds in the high elevations of the Northeast or Canada.  It's had a long trip from shrinking winter habitat in the Dominican Republic.  Now that its location has been publicly announced, treat it like an overnight guest and let it do its thing without being pestered by recordings of non-existent rivals.

There are places in New York State, not far from the Capital District, that you can see and hear this bird in its breeding habitat. Yes, it's inconvenient to get up early and hike to the top of a mountain in the dark, but it is an amazing experience to hear these rare and threatened birds singing in the pre-dawn darkness.  And isn't it far better to visit this bird in its own home, on its own terms, rather than disturbing it en route, when it most needs to refuel after a long and arduous migration?

Larry Alden
Meadowdale
southern Guilderland
between Thacher Park
and Black Creek Marsh


Re: Palenville and RamsHorn sightings - Fri, 5/23/14

Richard Guthrie
 

Good Stuff, Larry

Re: the Canada Warbler breeding? Not likely. While we're withing the southern limits of their breeding range, the habitat and elevation are wrong for the species. Your yard in Palenville may be a more - but even at that remote - possibility for breeding Canada Warbler. So its likely a lingering late migrant (but not all that late).

Also, I have just heard that the Willow Ptarmigan that had spent the last few months up in Jefferson County has been found dead today.

Rich Guthrie
New Baltimore




On Fri, May 23, 2014 at 8:28 PM, 'Larry Federman' birderlarry@... [hmbirds] <hmbirds@...> wrote:
 

It was “warblerpalooza” late this afternoon in my yard in Palenville, Greene County.  Many Blackpolls, Blackburnian, Yellow-rumps, and Magnolia, as well as B&W, Black-throated Green. A pair of Black-billed Cuckoos were seen, as were resident Baltimore Orioles (conveniently building a nest in our Chestnut Oak at the front of our house, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and  2 pairs of RT Hummingbirds.
 
At RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary in Catskill, among the “regulars”, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was heard, and a Canada Warbler was still hanging around near the observation tower (breeding there?). Best of all was hearing the calls of juvenile Virginia Rails!
 
Larry Federman
Education Coordinator
Audubon New York
Rheinstrom Hill, Buttercup Farm, and RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuaries and Centers
 
 




--
Richard Guthrie


Palenville and RamsHorn sightings - Fri, 5/23/14

birderlarry
 

It was “warblerpalooza” late this afternoon in my yard in Palenville, Greene County.  Many Blackpolls, Blackburnian, Yellow-rumps, and Magnolia, as well as B&W, Black-throated Green. A pair of Black-billed Cuckoos were seen, as were resident Baltimore Orioles (conveniently building a nest in our Chestnut Oak at the front of our house, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and  2 pairs of RT Hummingbirds.
 
At RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary in Catskill, among the “regulars”, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was heard, and a Canada Warbler was still hanging around near the observation tower (breeding there?). Best of all was hearing the calls of juvenile Virginia Rails!
 
Larry Federman
Education Coordinator
Audubon New York
Rheinstrom Hill, Buttercup Farm, and RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuaries and Centers
 
 


Lake Desolation/Foxhill Rd

bdudek34
 

This time of year I enjoy birding at higher elevations where leaf-out is a bit delayed. It is easier to see the birds!  Partridge Run and the southern part of Thacher Park, above Beaver Dam Rd are favorites. Today, I hiked a trail off Foxhill Rd in the Town of Edinburg; this trail is on newly acquired state lands. It was disappointing that I didn't see/hear any Canada warblers along Lake Desolation Rd and Foxhill either this AM or last Monday.  But that is because they must have all gone to this new area!  Six Canada warblers all appeared to be singing on territory in the Thousand Acre Swamp. The usual list of resident warblers was in full song, including Blackburnian, both Black-throateds, Chestnut, and Magnolia.  In this southern Adirondack location, White-throated sparrow song was everywhere, as were Red-eyed, Blue-headed, and Warbling Vireos. Ruffed grouse and displaying Wild Turkey were also seen along with moose tracks. A very loud Northern Waterthrush is incessantly defending a stretch of Foxhill Rd at the outlet marsh to Albia pond.

A few pics from today and earlier "elevation" birding (and a few wildflowers):
https://picasaweb.google.com/BCDudek/May2014
The first four pics are from today, including a Yellow-throated Vireo at Vischer Ferry, seen during a quick stop on my way home.


Bruce Dudek


Bicknell's Thrush?

Louis J. Suarato
 

Here's a photo of the thrush I saw at Five Rivers today around 4 pm after Alan Mapes reported it earlier in the day. I used the Bicknell's Thrush call found on the Cornell Lab website to attract it.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lsuarato/14067150317/

 

Louis Suarato


Bicknell's Thrush

Louis J. Suarato
 

I followed Alan Mapes' tracks to station 9 on the Beaver Trail at Five Rivers and used the Cornell Lab call for the Bicknell's Thrush. The thrush flew over within minutes and perched on a branch overhead. I'll post a photo shortly for your verification.

Louis Suarato


FW: Exciting Sighting at Five Rivers: Bicknell's Thrush

Louis J. Suarato
 

 

 

From: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [mailto:nysdec@...]
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2014 2:29 PM
To: lsuarato@...
Subject: Exciting Sighting at Five Rivers: Bicknell's Thrush

 

Department of Environmental Conservation
You are subscribed to receive updates from DEC. Links to receive help or to change your preferences are provided below. Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.


It's been an exciting day at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar, where birders on the Beaver Tree Trail report seeing a Bicknell's thrush. Designated a species of special concern in New York State, this is the first confirmed sighting of a Bicknell's thrush at Five Rivers in 38 years of record-keeping. In New York, the Bicknell's thrush breeds at high elevations in the Adirondack and Catskill mountains, the southern-most boundary of its breeding range.

Additional information about Bicknell's thrush is available from DEC's online fact sheet, and from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds online database.


This email was sent to lsuarato@... using GovDelivery, on behalf of: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation · 625 Broadway · Albany, NY 12233 · (518) 402-8013


Re: Migrants still moving

jhershey2
 

I thank Tom for leading me to the singing Canada Warbler at Vischer Ferry this morning.  I've posted a photo of this bird. Tom thinks that Canada Warblers sing "There's just not enough time to watch TV" and, after listening, I believe this is a good device for remembering the song.  Also, I heard another Least Bittern, this time along the towpath west of the main entrance.  A little further down on the towpath we heard a Common Gallinule. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/hmbirds/photos/albums/77752785/lightbox/1731954540?sortOrder=desc&photoFilter=ALL&orderBy=mtime


John H.


Re: Migrants still moving

jhershey2
 

I thank Tom for leading me to the singing Canada Warbler at Vischer Ferry this morning.  I've posted a photo of this bird. Tom thinks that Canada Warblers sing "There's just not enough time to watch TV" and, after listening, I believe this is a good device for remembering the song.  Also, I heard another Least Bittern, this time along the towpath west of the main entrance.  A little further down on the towpath we heard a Common Gallinule. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/hmbirds/photos/albums/77752785/lightbox/1731954540?sortOrder=desc&photoFilter=ALL&orderBy=mtime


John H.


Migrants still moving

trwdsd
 

Yesterday afternoon, and again early this morning, a Tennessee Warbler was singing from my yard in Colonie. At Vischer Ferry NHP this morning, a singing Canada and Blackpoll Warbler were observed. Late warblers, thrushes and flycatchers are still being reported to the south of the region, and I think that both cuckoo species are just arriving in numbers here now. Keep listening wherever you go, surprises await.

Tom Williams
Colonie


Yard birds this morning - New Baltimore

Richard Guthrie
 

I had an interesting mix of birds here in the New Baltimore yard today.

White-winged Scoter 1 male
Common Merganser 1 female
Bald Eagle 3
Wilson's Warbler 1 male

plus two dozen other more expected things.

Rich Guthrie
New Baltimore


--
Richard Guthrie


Bicknell' Thrush - 5 Rivers

Alan Mapes
 

I followed a gray-cheeked type Thrush near post 9 on the Beaver Tree Trail just now. It did not react to a grey- cheek call, but when I played Bicknells it flew right at me, and moved around me from sapling to sapling, appearing very agitated. I played that called just once briefly.

New bird for the all-time list at the center?

Alan Mapes


Re: Orchard Orioles

Richard Guthrie
 

As NYS Parks continues to destroy the Cerulean Warbler habitat over on Schodack Island, maybe we'll have some move across to the tall cottonwoods on the Bethlehem side.

Rich Guthrie
New Baltimore


On Thu, May 22, 2014 at 7:30 PM, John Kent jw.kent@... [hmbirds] <hmbirds@...> wrote:
 

Early this morning I heard an Orchard Oriole singing in Henry Hudson Park in Selkirk. It was the first time I have observed one in my neighborhood. Late today, after the storm passed, I went for a walk in the park and found two of them singing, both of them one-year-old males. Seems like that species is becoming more common around this area. The only through-migrants I noted on my walk were two heard-only Blackpoll Warblers. There was a Chestnut-sided Warbler singing, a species which in previous years hasn't seemed to breed here, though the habitat seems appropriate. Maybe this one will stick around. Otherwise I observed a good assortment of the local breeders, including Veery, Wood Thrush, Great Crested Flycatcher (5), American Redstart (5), Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-throated and Warbling Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, and Bald Eagle.

John Kent
Selkirk




--
Richard Guthrie

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