Samples from Intermediate Geographic Areas

I will add more samples to this list from time to time. Currently it is limited to samples from central Oregon.

  • Oregon
    • Lake County

      Thanks to great directions from Kevin Spencer, I was able to find and record 13 males on one day, June 28, 2005, in the Warner Mountains, east of Lakeview. He had just run the Lakeview BBS route, and found WEFLs at several stops. I am equally grateful to Joel Geier for linking me up with Kevin.

      Originally I identified the songs from this population as being attributable to COFL, and I communicated that opinion informally to a number of people. More careful examination of the sounds presented here has revealed PSFL influences, which I discuss under each sound. My present opinion is that these birds are more like COFL than PSFL, but they are not typical of the core population, as represented by the samples in the top frame.

      By the way, this trip disabused me of the notion that interior birds rarely sing, and that May may be a better time than June to hear them sing. It is important, though, to get out early to hear them sing. Four of four birds I encountered between 4:45 and 5:20 were singing. After that I was lucky to hear singing from two of nine birds, and neither was singing when I first found it. I stayed with another bird for an hour and it never sang.

      Warner Mountains Territory 1

      I had to wait for this bird to start his dawn song, around 4:55. I had visited three locations (Territories 2, 3, and 4) that later turned out to have WEFLs on my way to this spot, which is between BBS stops 4 and 5. He used only the three song phrases for dawnsong. I returned later to collect his MPN.

      Warner Mountains Territory 2

      This bird was singing below the road in a copse of Douglasfirs at 5:00 AM. When I returned later for his MPN, he was ranging in open timber below a low scarp of boulders, above the road. I saw no surface water in this territory. Territories 3 and 4 were on a steep slope between the road and Deep Creek, which was roaring at the time. This is classic COFL habitat. Terrible recording conditions!

      Warner Mountains Territory 5

      The bird was calling with MPN upslope to the south from the beginning of Road 019. As the dawn chorus had ended by the time I reached this location at 5:30, I followed him around. Eventually he sang, and a female, presumably his mate, produced some FPN. Habitat was open Douglasfir forest (thinned?), with Deep Creek some 50 yards away. Territories 6, 7, and 8 were further up Rd. 019 along Deep Creek.

      Warner Mountains Territory 9

      This bird was singing exuberantly at 8:20 AM, the latest hour at which I encountered song, and only one of two birds that sang after 5:30 AM. He moved about on the steep slope of the canyon formed by Willow Creek, half a mile or so downstream from the campground. Timbered slopes such as this, with a rushing stream below, are classic COFL habitat. I did not filter these sounds so you can see what they look and sound like with minimal processing.

      Warner Mountains Territory 10

      These recordings came from Willow Creek Camp Ground, where Joel Geier reported a bilingual bird in 2003. His bird gave one kind of call in the morning and another kind in the afternoon. My bird was calling frequently with MPN when I arrived at 9 AM. Eventually he threw in a few renditions of Song Phrase 2, delivered in the manner of MPN. I managed to find one each of Song Phrase 1 and Song Phrase 3 on the tape, although I didn't notice them in real time. As with Territory 9, these are unfiltered sounds. The background noise is different here because the location is a valley floor, without a rushing stream. Campgrounds are always good places to look for WEFLS, as they nest readily under the eaves of rustic buildings, or even on window ledges. Unfortunately, the design of current Forest Service campground structures doesn't provide many covered horizontal surfaces for WEFLs and other birds to nest on. I found that window-ledge nest at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Del Norte County, CA, by asking the maintenance person if he had any buildings with bird nests on them. He pondered for a moment and then directed me right to the nest. Give it a try.

    • Deschutes County

      I made these recordings June 16-19, 2005. Many people helped me find these birds, among them Tom Crabtree, Greg Gilson, Jon Plissner, and Steve Shunk.

      Trout Creek Swamp Territory 3

      Trout Creek Swamp is adjacent to Whispering Pines Camp Ground in Deschutes N. F. Thanks to Greg Gilson for posting a timely recommendation of Trout Creek Swamp as a great birding spot, and to Steve Shunk for following that up with his endorsement. Ned Johnson visited the location on July 6, 1970, where the "song syllables and position notes sounded exactly like those heard on several occasions in the population along Tumalo Creek west of Bend...."(Johnson 1980:86). I found three males and two females there on June 16, 2005, but only one of the males sang. My assessment of sex is based on simultaneous usage of MPN and FPN by what seemed to be a pair on each side of the road that crosses the creek at the campground. The singing male was farther upstream.

      Tumalo Creek Territory 1

      Tom Crabtree answered my query for good WEFL sites with directions to this excellent location, reached by taking Skyliner Road west from Bend to its bridge over Tumalo Creek. OMSI's Summer Science Camp is there on the banks of the creek, and WEFLs are abundant on the grounds, where they probably nest under the eaves of the buildings. The camp would be a great place for an easy study of the nesting biology of this species. Ned Johnson's important Crater Lake sample was based primarily on birds from Tumalo Creek, 11-15 miles west of Bend. I have little doubt that this spot where the road crosses the creek is within his collecting location.

      Squaw Creek Territory 1 (Swamp along road leading from Rd. 1514 to Falls)

      The next three territories are along the upper reaches of a stream that rises on the Three Sisters and then flows around the north side of the town of Sisters. All Oregon place names containing the word "squaw" are in the process of being changed, so I am not sure what this place will be called in the future. Regardless of its name, this is a grand place. The creek slides down a broad shelf of flat rock, then narrows into a gorge under overhanging slabs of bricklike shale. (It's always nice to run across sedimentary rock in Oregon.) Westerns are thick along the creek and I found one, minus stream noise, in this swamp bisected by Road 600. The falls are worth risking your tires on Road 600, which is studded with sharp rocks, but you may be able to find WEFLs along the excellent gravel Road 1514, where it crosses the creek. Nice, albeit unofficial, campsites are all along this reach of the creek.

      Cascadia Ranch (Sisters) Territory 1

      After travelling to classic COFL sites three mornings in a row, I was quite surprised to find WEFLs giving MPN in my own backyard, so to speak, on the afternoon of June 18 (2005). Cascadia Ranch, where I was attending a workshop, has no natural surface water, it's flat, and the short ponderosa pines and sagebrush are right for Hammond's and Gray Flycatchers (both of which are present), not Westerns. I should not have been surprised, though. Basalt boulders provided shade and a cool, protected surface for the growth of moss. That appears to be enough to attract Westerns in central Oregon (and the Warners, see above, Territory 1), just as I found in New Mexico three decades ago. Whether the aspens that are usually present under such circumstances are important, I have no idea.

      The next morning I was out before dawn and found a male delivering rapid-fire song near the 12-foot basalt "cliffs." After his singing ended, I heard MPN and FPN from two birds in this location. Later, after recording presumably a second male in Territory 2, I followed a bird in Territory 1 as it moved 200 yards along the low basalt escarpment, and then back to the area where I had recorded dawnsong. This was really confusing, and I don't know if the bird was my singer, his mate, or another bird.

      Cascadia Ranch (Sisters) Territory 2

      This seemed to be a different bird from the one at Territory 1, but I can't be positive, because I couldn't hear the other guy while this one was singing. Their song posts were far enough apart to easily be in different territories, but the long foray in Territory 1 casts a shadow of doubt on all assumptions about individual identity. Regardless of who he was, this bird was the most obliging Western I've ever encountered when it comes to recording. He sang incessantly for minutes on end at close range in decent light and with an unobstructed line of sight that minimizes echos. If only I had my tripod! I did everything I could think of to still myself and minimize movement of the handheld video camera.

      The two Cascadia males sang similarly. These songs are the most PSFL-like I recorded in Deschutes County in 2005, similar in that regard to a bird at Calliope Crossing outside Sisters in 2004. See the spectrograms for details, but the main points are rather high ticks in Phrases 2 and 3, a noticeable "concavity" on top of the final note of Phrase 2, and the absence or near absence of the second note in Phrase 3. Frequencies are too low, though, for "pure" PSFL.

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