Many of you know that I am the eBird reviewer for the four Champlain
Valley counties of Vermont. And eBirders know that Philadelphia Vireos
are usually flagged for review. Pertinent to the ID conversation here
started by Bridget is some information of expectations for that species
and two species of flycatchers that are often flagged as well .....
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Olive-sided Flycatcher.
All three share a similar pattern in the Champlain regarding seasonality
and geographical distribution.
The Champlain Valley counties include Lake Champlain, the Champlain
Lowlands, and the Green Mountains (foothills and mountains).
Most of the ID errors of the three species occur with submissions to
eBird from along Lake Champlain and from the Champlain Lowlands.
As a general theme all three species are as close to absent as they can
be in June, August, and September in the Lake Champlain/Champlain
Lowlands. Virtually all reports during these three months to eBird are
inadequately documented and/or prove to be in error.
In spring migration Philadelphia Vireos appear in the Lowlands in quite
low numbers, mostly in the last two weeks of May. ID errors and
inadequately documented birds are very common during this period.
During fall migration is when the species is most likely to be seen in
the Lowlands, almost always in September. For many birders this is one
of the Fall highlight birds. This is the peak time for their
observation in the Lowlands, and well documented individuals seem to
help other birders locate the species more easily as the month wears on.
With a few exceptions Yellow-bellied Flycatcher submissions during
spring migration in the Lowlands are usually inadequately documented or
errors. Overall, the few documented individuals have been in the last
three weeks of May. Documented individuals are very sparse during fall
migration, from the last week of August through the first two weeks of
Olive-sided Flycatchers, of these three species, are the most scarce in
the Champlain Lowlands; at least as reflected in the eBird data. They
also have a high level of inadequately documented and mistakenly
identified birds. The very few documented reports are during the last
three weeks of May during spring migration. They are essentially absent
in the Lowland during the Fall migration.
Overall, these three species need good quality documentation whenever
located along Lake Champlain and the in the Champlain Lowlands. Thanks
to Bridget Butler for getting this conversation going!
If only seen, multiple defining characteristics are important for a
successful documentation. Vocalizations (with no recordings) by
themselves are inadequate for documentation, and for Philadelphia Vireo
almost useless in most cases. Audio recordings are best when there are
multiple repeats of songs, and when the sonograms are clear. Multiple
photos are much better than a single photo.
As most of you eBirders know, the same bird is often reported by several
birders. The more birders that see what is likely the same bird at a
location, the subsequent documentation of the bird can be somewhat less
thorough. But beware, every season there are instances where some
birders will document a bird with the phrase "continuing bird", or "seen
by others", or "known to be at location" ..... not knowing that the
original observation was found to be in error or inadequately documented.
As most of us know these last three weeks of May have been an seemingly
unrivaled Vermont bonanza of migrants, especially warblers and other
passerines. Included have been numerous reports of Philadelphia Vireos
and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. For the most part I have been holding
back on reviewing these submission until the flood is over. In the near
future I will work my way through the three species, looking at all the
submissions during this spring.
Good birding all .....