Thursday, September 17, 2015
Tricks of the Trade # 3: Using chickadees and titmice to find migrants
Today I was walking through the woodsy part of LaSalle Park, looking for migrants. My first circuit of the boardwalk and adjacent glade produced a single Eastern Wood-Pewee, singing perweee. The second circuit produced a Brown Thrasher, calling its hearty chuck, and then a chickadee giving its namesake call from a tall water oak. I swished at it, and it immediately flew down to my level in an adjacent tree. With it came a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a White-eyed Vireo, and a Summer Tanager.
This illustrates a valuable strategy for searching for migrants in wooded habitats. First, chickadees (and titmice) are often accompanied by migrant passerines. Second, chickadees are usually responsive to swishing/squeeking, and when they approach their migrant companions often will as well.