ABACO WARBLERS: NEW “WHICH?” GUIDE TO I.D.


YELLOW WARBLER ©Cornell Lab

BANISH “WHAT WARBLER???” MISERY NOW WITH CORNELL LAB

I’ve written before about the problems of ID of the multitude of small yellow birds on Abaco. They are mostly (but not all) warblers. The issue is further confused by the differences in each species between males, females and juveniles; and also, I expect, by colour variations during the season. YW song courtesy of Xeno-Canto


The CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY has again come to the rescue with a helpful article. The link below takes as the starting point Yellow Warblers. Here is a grab of the page so you can see the well-thought-out format. You get

  • Keys to ID – size, shape, colour pattern, behaviour and habitat
  • Range Map
  • Audio clip of Call
  • Field marks (zoomable) including M & F
  • Similar species for comparison
  • Further down the page, other similar species and their details (e.g. American Goldfinch, Yellowthroats)

CLICK LINK===>>>  CORNELL LAB WARBLER ID

ALL ABOUT BIRDS: IDENTIFICATION & BIRDSONG with Cornell Lab of Ornithology


The outstanding  Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology site has a comprehensive bird ID section. I recently posted about the new ID resource MERLIN for which they are inviting user-testing to help them perfect it. There are also 4 excellent videos concentrating on the principles ways in which birds can best be ID’d: size & shape; colour pattern; behaviour; and habitat

I haven’t yet cracked embedding the 4 videos so while the backroom boffins in the cerebral cortex puzzle it out (alongside ‘The Purpose of Hornets – What & Why?”) the best thing is to give a direct link to the website feature

CLICK LOGO ===>>> 

The same link will offer you the chance to download 5 bird songs – and now a second set of 5, part of the Great Backyard Bird Count currently underway – see details below. You may need to click on the images to make them legible…

‘MERLIN’ – NEW ONLINE BIRD ID TOOL FROM CORNELL LAB FOR ORNITHOLOGY


STOP PRESS January 2014

Cornell are now re-promoting ‘MERLIN’ with a free App and a video to go with it.

 has produced a new proactive bird identification gizmo called MERLIN (CLICK for direct link). They are trying to build up a user-friendly ID ‘wizard’ using the sort of variable descriptions that people like me use to describe birds they don’t recognise. Perhaps we’ve all been there – “well, it was a medium-size greyish bird, but I think it had white under the wings. Or maybe a lighter grey. And a sort of white streak on its head. Actually the bird was more bluey-grey…”etc. Merlin seeks to iron out the variations using AI, by showing a bird and asking a number of questions to get users to describe the colouring  they are looking at. I tried it with a teal, and it worked first time.

Gradually, the input of descriptions for each bird will be analysed, so that future users are more like to get a correct ID based on their description, even if others might describe the bird differently. With any luck it will also improve the chance to ID that pretty bird seen fleetingly at a distance. It’s worth trying this out even if you are a serious birder, because each ‘attempt’ adds to the picture. And anyway, there’s a very slight element of a game here – will the computer get it right?

“ROSETTA STONE FOR WARBLERS” – Cornell Lab of Ornithology Research


RESEARCH INTO THE FLIGHT CALLS OF MIGRATING WARBLERS

  has found a way to investigate the nocturnal migrations of warblers using spectrograms. Many of the warblers featured in the project are found on Abaco and will be familiar to the more discerning birder – though I admit that ID of  members of this large family of little yellowy birds, even in broad daylight, remains a blind spot for me (and I suspect I am not the only one). Click the chart below for a clearer view. A downloadable / printable version is available via the link given below. It is also worth visiting  the page to compare the brief audio cheeps of the Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler and their respective spectrograms

“These spectrograms are a visual representation of the very brief flight calls made by North American warblers during their nocturnal migrations. Some of these call notes sound almost identical to our ears, but spectrograms show minute differences between them. Scientists can compare spectrograms of night recordings to spectrograms of known species to identify nocturnal migrants in total darkness. Andrew Farnsworth, a scientist in the Cornell Lab’s Conservation Science program, developed this “Rosetta Stone” in 2006 in collaboration with Michael Lanzone, Cellular Tracking Technologies, William R. Evans, and Michael O’Brien. It covers all 48 warbler species of the U.S. and Canada (including Grace’s and Red-faced warblers, not shown), and is a major tool in our Acoustic Monitoring Project”

Click chart to enlarge

Putting Sound to Work for Conservation: “Our staff will use results from the Rosetta Stone… to “train” computers to identify the sounds of warblers and other nocturnally migrating birds, as well as other species including whales and forest elephants”

Working Toward a Bird Migration Forecast: “A new grant from the National Science Foundation will fund BirdCast, a project that will combine bird observations (both sightings and sound recordings) with weather models and terrain data to forecast migrations. The results of the predictions will help scientists understand migratory behavior and may aid decisions about wind turbine placement and other questions about environmental hazards to birds”

To see the complete article CLICK LOGO===>>> 

To learn more about BirdCast and the Acoustic Monitoring Project from the original article CLICK LINK===>>>  Cornell Chronicle 

Prairie Warbler on the Delphi Club guest drive, Abaco

CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY: ANNUAL REPORT 2011


CORNELL LABORATORY OF ORNITHOLOGY                    ANNUAL REPORT 2011

The Annual Report 2011 contains a huge variety of reports, project news, images, and references. The direct link to the specific Bahamas Birding page can be found under BLOGROLL links on the SIDEBARThe Report is far wider-ranging. I post it in pdf form because anyone with an interest in birdlife is bound to find something worth following up, and  you should be able to download it (if you try & it doesn’t work, can you let me know – comment box or email – and I’ll change the format)

CLICK CORNELL LABORATORY OF ORNITHOLOGY ANNUAL REPORT 2011