Northern Parula

Setophaga americana


Ian Cruickshank
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eBird Checklist S30264457
Lower Kennedy River / Kennedy River Bog Provincial Park
Alberni-Clayoquot, British Columbia, Canada
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Latitude and Longitude 49.1032, -125.626 Map


Media notes

Observation details

I initially heard chip notes that were not from a regular coastal BC warbler species, coming from shoreline alders along the lower Kennedy River at 49.102929, -125.626606. Spent about a minute searching for the source of the calls, but did not see the bird until 1 second before it flew from the alders. I got the binoculars on it at ~10 metres distance for about 1 second, enough time to see a warbler with a strikingly bluish-tinged head, and yellow below this on the lower head/breast, and a glimpse of some kind of patterning around the eye. The view was so quick though, in the instant before the bird took flight, that this was all I could take in of the plumage; the bluish colour on the head was very striking. I also immediately noticed that this was a very small warbler, appearing relatively short-tailed, smaller and having a stouter/less elongated shape than many warbler species. The bird flew across the river channel to some Sitka spruces on an island in a river oxbow. I followed it (by canoe) and soon heard the bird giving chip notes again from the spruces on this island; it quickly began singing and sang for the next 10 minutes from mid to upper portion of these spruce trees. I spent that ten minutes getting a handful of extremely frustrating glimpses of the bird in silhouette, never able to see any colour on the bird, but I got more good looks at its very small size and stout shape. After ten minutes in the spruces, it flew from these spruces back across the river channel and sunset. This time I got it in the bins while it flew across the river channel; it was backlit but I did see white in the outer tail feathers, and was again struck by how small the bird was. This bird was singing a buzzy, multi-parted song (consisting of usually 3 lower buzzes followed by several higher-pitched buzzes), rather than the classic rising "zeeeeeyy-dit" NOPA song type. I've seen some refer to these multi-parted song types as "alternate" or "type 2" song. I never heard this bird give a separate sharper/lower final note to its songs like NOPA often do. Here is a link to one Xeno-Canto recording of a bird giving a similar song type: Below is a recording of a few of the Kennedy River bird's chip calls, followed by its songs. Note there is one aborted song at 0:51 consisting of only the initial low buzzes and lacking the higher buzzes. Lots of Vaux's Swift calls in this recording too.

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