Saturday, 30 April 2011

Willow Warbler with Chiff-chaff bits

With the current topic being aberrant or odd birds, I thought I'd throw in an interesting Willow Warbler into the mix.
A bird was singing along Millionnaire's Row, Great orme this morning and although obviously a Willow Warbler it kept throwing Chiff-chaff bits in. It looked like and was a Willow warbler.
There is a recording here -

Try to ignore the noisy Blackcap. The chiff chaff bits can be heard at the end of the first and second Willow Warler phrase, while in the third Willow warbler phrase, it sings a couple of chiff-chaffs in the middle.
Here is a sonogram showing where it sings it. I've pointed the red arrow to the Chiff-chaff bits, and the blue lines generally show the Willow warbler phrase - the rest is Blackcap, Gulls, an easterly wind and me breathing noise. Is this is what is classed as a mixed singer?

Click on sonogram for larger image.


  1. I've heard one of those in the past and presumed it was a hybrid of the two, as I would suspect that's what your bird is.

  2. I remember reading summin a while back suggesting song in passerines is largely learned in the early stages of a birds' life rather than directly inherited genetically, so perhaps this bird was exposed to a noisy Chiffchaff during it's first few months of life? It's probably not this simple though!

  3. I caught a bird up here yesterday that looked like a chiffchaff but in the hand showed features of both willow and chiffy.

  4. Hi Rob. Hi Henerz.Why would it just imitate a Chiffchaff though? That doesn't make sence as you would presume they would also mimic other species and they don't?