Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Conversations with yellowthroats.

There are birds you can pish, and those you can’t. To pish is to go “psh psh psh,” and successfully stir a bird from hiding, from within dense foliage, say, which allows you to see them. One reliable psh-target is the Common Yellowthroat, a very widespread wood-warbler that lives in brushy habitats, almost always in or near a wetland of some sort. It’s one of the most commonly heard summer birds “Wichy wichy wichy!” or “Wichety wichety wichety!’ but despite its bright yellow throat and black mask (in males), it tends to remain unseen, unless you psh.

But it only works once, maybe twice if you’re lucky:
Wichety wichety wichety!”

Psh psh psh!”

Tchup!” (That’s how they answer a pish. They jump into view, eye you briefly, then fly to another bush, where they disappear.)

Psh psh psh!”

Tchup!” (Maybe a second tchup, but chances of another view are low.)

So you’ll probably only get one or two decent chances for a good look, or a photo. At least, this is my experience with Geothlypis trichas, which also, now that I think of it, may work as a psh- sound. “Geothlypis Geothlypis Geothlypis!”


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