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...Forwarding this for Doug Willis...

(I'll certainly be out looking for this bird tomorrow morning!)

Kristi Mayo
Kearney MO (Clay Co.)
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Identifying birds by vocalization is a tricky business...Having said  
that, I would like to go out on a limb and state that I am certain  
that there is a SWAINSON'S WARBLER at the Martha Lafite Thompson  
Nature Sanctuary, Clay County, MO. The bird was heard again this  
morning by Craig Hensley, Sanctuary Director. Of course, by the time  
I arrived, it had stopped singing.

My first encounter with the bird was last Wednesday morning (appx.  
9:30 am). I was sitting under the pavilion (near the entrance)  
reading the newspaper when I heard the bird vocalize. The song was  
coming from the dense cover (Bush Honeysuckle, mostly) between the  
pond and Martha's old house. I walked down the trail (west of the  
pond) and the song was deafening...clear, introductory notes and a  
bouncy ending. I was within 12 ft. of the bird twice and never could  
pinpoint exactly where the song was coming from. I never saw the bird.

I sought out Craig Hensley at the nature center, described what I was  
hearing, and he walked back to the previously mentioned area with me.  
We heard nothing.

Of course, after Craig left, the bird began to sing again (north of  
the previously mentioned dense area) and I called Kristi Mayo and  
Kyle Driggers to help this rookie birder find this pesky bird. Of  
course, we heard nothing. The next day, I was there bright and early  
and it rained cats and dogs all morning. I went back Friday morning  
and heard nothing and have been trying to forget about my encounter  
ever since.

Why do I believe this is a Swainson's Warbler (not a Louisiana  
Waterthrush)???

1)The song was dead-on Swainson's...I practically lived at Greer  
campground my first 3 spring/summers as a birder and learned  
Swainson's song, in comparison to Louisiana Waterthrush. There was NO  
drop in pitch after the introductory notes on the MLT bird. NO  
sputtery/twittery chatter at the end of the song on the MLT bird.  
Also, at NO time did I hear the distinctive call note of the  
Louisiana Waterthrush while listening to the MLT bird.

The volume, tone, rythym, and ventriloquial quality were all  
consistent with Swainson's Warbler.

2) This bird was a skulker!! Usually, when I put my mind to it, I can  
locate a bird visually. This guy was right in front of me twice and I  
never saw the bird!  Also, the dark, dank cover that the MLT bird has  
been frequenting would be consistent with Swainson's Warbler.  
Louisiana Waterthrush would typically be in the creek beds, not up on  
the hillsides.

Craig believes that this bird has been vocalizing at MLT for at least  
two weeks now. He heard it this morning near the parking lot to the  
nature center, working it's way to the west (toward the pond/Martha's  
old house).

I will not be able to go on with my life until someone gets a visual  
on this bird!! So, if anyone out there wants to chase this bird,  
please do!  Play tapes, imitate a Screech Owl, stand upside down and  
cluck like a chicken....I won't be right in the head until I know for  
sure!

Many thanks and Good Birding,

Doug Willis
Kansas City, MO
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