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    #ABArare – Common (Siberian) Chiffchaff – Alaska

    I mentioned this bird in last week’s Rare Bird Alert as one of the highlights of a good week in western Alaska. The report may be a little stale, but I figure the photos that have surfaced are good enough to give this very rare bird it’s own spotlight.

    On June 9, a group of birders at Gambell, on St. Lawrence Island, found an ABA Code 5 Common Chiffchaff. This would be the third ABA Area record of the species, all from Gambell and all in the past 24 months.


    Photo by Bob Dittrick

    This exceptional photo shows the noteworthy characteristics distinguishing this species from Willow Warbler, also very rare but a number of Alaskan records. Note the short primary extension, blackish legs and feet, and the gingery wash to the lower auriculars.

    Common Chiffchaff was first documented in the ABA Area in June 2012 in Gambell. Another was seen in September of the next year. A Phylloscopus on St Lawrence Sept-Oct 2011 was not accepted but was also a good candidate for chiffchaff.

    Common Chiffchaff is a wide-ranging breeding bird in the Palearctic, with three known subspecies that some authorities consider good candidates for future splits. The nominate subspecies breeds in Europe east to Poland, while the subspecies tristis, known by many as Siberian Chiffchaff, breeds from Siberia east to eastern Russia. The two subspecies do not recognize each other’s songs, but field identification is very difficult and may be impossible. Chiffchaffs in the far eastern part of their range tend towards being duller than those in the west, and perhaps not surprisingly, the Alaskan records are thought to be these dull tristis birds.

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    Nate Swick

    Nate Swick

    Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
    Nate Swick

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    • Catherine Carroll

      Hey guys, this goes to my belief that birders do not actually read blogs. Look at this blog title “common chaffinch” (a completely different bird), and then look at the photo of the bird and the name of the bird actually discussed.

      Secondly, tt could be a common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita). But the bird in the photo also looks potentially like a caucasian chiffchaff (P. lorenzii). If the bird was singing it’s singsongy chiff chaff, chiff chaff, chiff chaff then it’s clear. But, vocalization is not mentioned in the report.

      Cathy Carroll

      • http://blog.aba.org/ Nate Swick

        My mistake. I shouldn’t write these late at night…

        Sent from my phone

        • Catherine Carroll

          Hi Nick, no problem. I have just returned from trip to Hungary and these birds are fresh on my mind. Since the title was easy to change, you might also change in the body of the report – 2nd paragraph. Anyway, it’s a good bird and it will be interesting to know the review committee’s thoughts on the bird. Please post that too, when available.

    • Katie Walsh

      Wow! It looks so beautiful, I just love this bird. Hope I can see it! Anyway, thanks for sharing, I am so glad that I visit this post & got the chance to see such a beautiful bird.


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