(COMMON) WHITETHROAT  (Sylvia communis)

Fauvette grisette


This bird is distributed throughout the valleys of Switzerland but is mainly found below 600m. It is nowhere very abundant and is encountered only occasionally, mainly favouring low scrubby vegetation alongside abandoned pasture land (of which there is not much !), and usually in drier areas.

Its English common name derives from the white throat feathers which contrast well with the gery head and brown wings.

The song is a scratchy little rattle, of short and quite varied notes, uttered in fairly brisk short phrases, giving the impression of a rather complicated but weak sound:

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Sometimes the phrases get a bit more elongated:

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and although the later part of the phrase can be very varied the opening notes are often consistent and characteristic, if you use the pause button on this sonogram you can see that the first 6 notes of the two phrases are pretty identical, after that the rest are more varied - it is of course hard to hear this in real time:

Geoff Sample (2003) describes 3 different kinds of song one of which is given in flight which is more liquid and pleasant and reminiscent of a Blackcap. In this next cut the bird flew up in the air, sang the first three phrases (which do sound more like a Blackcap), landed on the fourth (which sounds like a transition) then dropped into the centre of a bush and resumed the "normal song:

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If you find it hard to follow by ear, try looking at the first 5 phrases in this sonogram, the first 3 are more complex and longer, the fourth is a bit shorter and the fifth is back to the "normal" scratchy little rattle:

As you can tell these recordings were made on a hot day in early summer when the insects were extremely active, the steady toothcomb effect at 5Kz in the sonograms are the noise of a nearby grasshopper chirping away that I could not seem to escape from !




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