American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – Common (Siberian) Chiffchaff – Alaska

More news from Alaska, where things are really starting to get exciting this week. At Gambell, Clarence Irrigoo found an ABA Code 5 “Siberian” Chiffchaff

Photo by Gary Rosenberg

Photo by Gary Rosenberg

Common Chiffchaff was first documented in the ABA Area in June 2012 in Gambell (though a bird from the previous fall was likely one as well), and in the past four years there have now been six Chiffchaffs at Gambell – three in spring and three in fall – plus another fall record in the Pribilofs.

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.

Other notable records this fall from Gambell include Common Rosefinch (ABA Code 4) and the continuing Little Bunting (4) from earlier in the week.