sixteen seconds at swamis

Monday, July 8, 2013

Stop by for a chat.

© Ken Seals / Bill Olson

For a guy who supposedly knows everything, I have serious holes in my game. Certain family members would be more than willing to give you a full run down if you are curious.

My friend Beth is a birder. She was jogging past my ranch early the other morning with her herding dog and I  hailed her and asked her how's trix? Any new birds lately?

Beth said, "Well the chats are still here. I can't see them but I can hear them." I nodded sagely and she kept going on down the road. What the hell is a chat? I didn't want to appear stupid. I would look it up. So I did.

Oh, those guys. I think I have occasionally mixed up their sounds with mockingbirds, which are rampant in these parts. The chats are a shy creature and like to hide in the brush. Great singers. Have seen them around the neighborhood for years, was never on a first name basis.

We have over 492 species of birds in San Diego County, many of them centered near where I live in the north county. The highest numbers of different bird species in the entire country. Quite impressive when you consider that there are only 888 species in the whole nation. In the bigger scheme of things, of course, Columbia towers over us and everybody else with 1821.

Here is a list put out by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy that breaks down the birds on the Santa Margarita River, where I live, which is denoted by an S.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes its behavior as skulking which sounds to me a bit pejorative, although it ain't like the little chat is going to take offense. It describes the chat's song as a collection of whistles, cackles, mews, catcalls, caw notes, chuckles, rattles, squawks, gurgles, and pops. Call a sharp "chuck."
From Wiki: The Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens) is a large songbird, formerly considered the most atypical member of the New World warbler family, though the long-standing suspicion is that it does not actually belong there. Its placement is not definitely resolved. It is the only member of the genus Icteria.
An atypical bird that may or may not actually belong to its family. Hmmm?  The chat is defined by its white eye rings and black legs. Now I know. New Word Warblers. Sounds like a folkie band.

1 comment:

NYSTAN said...

For a Jewish kid from Long Island, who now lives on a ranch and knows a chat from a cat....believe me, you know PLENTY! Stan S