Monday Bird of the Week No.37 – Chiffchaff

Once you know certain birds, you start to realise they are more common than you realise. Sound plays a big part of that, and this week’s star is a bird that, once you know it’s call, you will hear everywhere. It’s the Chiffchaff.

The chiffchaff is, for me, now the unintentional star of so many films and TV programmes. If they film near a window, or outdoors, from March through to October, you will hear one in the background. It is a relentless call that starts on the day they migrate into the country, and continues right up to the point they leave. Is it not context or time sensitive. They chiff-and-chaff right through.

In itself it’s a pretty but unremarkable looking bird, easily mistake for other related warblers such as Willow and Garden. Like so many warblers, the voice is where they distinguish themselves.

If you have only heard the call at a distance, you haven’t heard the full thing. In between the chiffchaffing they tail off into a far more warbler-like babble of noises, then resume again. But it’s quieter, and you need to stand close to hear it. Make a point this spring to find one and listen closely. They rarely seem to mind if you stand next to a tree they are occupying.

Heslington Tilmire

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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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