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Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Yellow-breasted Chat in Carlton Hill State Forest

Published June 03, 2013
Tags: Life List Happenings, Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue-winged Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Baltimore Oriole, Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Willow Flycatcher

A report of a Yellow-breasted Chat came in over the weekend - and, due to "Grammy responsibilities", I was afraid I was going to miss it. This morning, however, the stunning male was still present in Carlton Hill State Forest / MUA (Multi Use Area).  When I pulled up to the marked area, I was thrilled to hear its unique song and chirps - it was still there!  If you've never heard the chat's voice, it's worth checking out on the Cornell Lab's website (click here to listen).  This bird is known to be a mimic too!

The little guy was pretty elusive and was true to its reputation of preferring dense brush.  Eventually, though, he gave-way to some wonderful looks.  The few close-ups I got weren't long enough for a closer photo, but I did get to take some distant photos while he was high up in a Cottonwood tree.  He sang pretty much the entire time too - and what a handsome bird!

Did you know the Yellow-breasted Chat is a warbler?  I didn't know that! He's our largest warbler and has a heavy bill and long tail.  He's uncommon in our region and is actually declining in the northeastern part of its range.

The field the chat was in was full of activity: nesting Song Sparrows (we had to watch our step as they nest right on the ground!), Field Sparrows, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow Warblers, a Common Yellowthroat, a Blue-winged Warbler, some Flycatchers, including a Willow - and MAYBE an Alder!), several Gray Catbirds, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, American Goldfinches, and a small flock of Cedar Waxwings stopped by for a little while.

Not too far from the state forest, I saw several Savannah Sparrows on a fence surrounding a farm.

The morning had started out overcast and chilly but ended with some beautiful sightings, warmth, and sunshine - oh, and a lifer!
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Yellow-breasted Chat (male)
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Yellow-breasted Chat (male)
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Yellow Warbler (male)
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Yellow Warbler (male)
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Willow Flycatcher (ID'd by voice)
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Unknown Flycatcher (possibly an Alder due to the abbreviated song)
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Common Yellowthroat
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Savannah Sparrow (seen on the way home)
Reply from: Larry on 6/3/2013 8:51 PM
 Yellow-breasted Chat-nice find! I still have a hard time distinguishing the songs of Willow and alder.
Reply from: Sue on 6/4/2013 6:32 AM
 Hi Larry, thx on the chat - but credit goes out to Doug Beattie for having heard it as he was driving by the area. It was, indeed, a great find! The Alder's song seems more buzzy to me than a Willow's (comparing a recording side-by-side) - and that's what Celeste and I were hearing. We couldn't pinpoint it to the bird in the photo, though.