I went birding in Belmont Lake state park, looking for as well as listening for whatever birds I could find. I am still very much a ‘bird watcher’ even though the term ‘birder’ is more apropos. As such I practiced my skills in IDing birds first by their song, and then confirming it visually.
The first bird was a Pine Warbler. There is a stand of tall pine trees at the north of the park where I have them every year; probably breed there. Problem is, as we know they sound way too much like Chipping Sparrow which are also present in the park, as well as the possibility for Worm-eating Warbler, and even the remotely possible though not entirely impossible Orange-crowned Warbler.
I know several birders blessed with acute hearing ability, and a few who claim to be able to differentiate them by sound. I think that habitat and other ‘factors’ can lead one to make a more educated guess, but am not convinced that with this example that an ID can be confident without visual confirmation. After catching sight of movement, I was able to confirm my suspicion and ID it as a PIWA.
Of course the Cardinals, Catbirds, Carolina Wrens presented much less challenge. A Redstart did its 5 note call, with an obliging appearance to confirm my ID as they are both good looking and desirous to flaunt their charm.
Further on I heard what I considered to be Magnolia Warbler singing from a densely vegetated location. I tried my best to catch sight of the songster, but gave up after a while when it seemed a lost cause. I did however feel 'confident' at the time that the song was emanating from a Maggy.
That changed when I exchanged notes with another birder who relayed that he had found a Hooded Warbler in the same locale! I asked: Are you sure it wasn’t a Magnolia? He was sure, as was the photo he took of it. Doh!
I returned to the area and hearing the song continuing, I spent a goodly amount of time trying to spot it. Hooded Warbler for this park was a really good bird! Frustrated, I tried luring the beast into the open. It seemed quite defiant, and what is more, my ears seemed to be telling me that either it was ventriloquial, there was two of them, or it had perfected worm-hole travel to different sides of me repeatedly.
My app presented several offerings of HOWA vocalizations. I tried the first song, from TN and waited. Nothing moved, but the songs continued from the two locations... I tried the chip notes a few times, and nothing.
Then I tried the song from NY. Movement! I got on the bird and... and... it was a Magnolia Warbler!
Ears looking at you ;)