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Friday, February 01, 2008

Yellow-breasted Chat

I took this photo, recently, of a Yellow-breasted Chat in the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area in sounthern GA. This bird was typically skulking in some dense underbrush and we detected some movement as we drove along the dirt road in the car. I took the photo out the car window and the bird was backlit, making for difficult photography. Still, it's an interesting look at a hard-to-see bird.

The Yellow-breasted Chat is a type of warbler that looks very un-warbler like, but it's still classified in the wood-warbler family. Chats are the biggest (7") warbler, have a large bill with a strongly curved culmen, a long tail and have a song that's a weird combination of irregularly spaced whistles, caws, cackles, scolds, rattles, mews and other strange sounds. This bird was making no noise and call notes are seldom heard from Chats. Yellow-breasted Chats breed in about three-quarters of the eastern part of the country and parts of the West. They winter in Mexico and Central America.

So what was this bird doing in coastal GA in winter? We don't know, but it certainly was in the perfect Chat habitat of dense tangles. Yellow-breasted Chats have been recorded in winter in GA and along the Atlantic Coast up to Newfoundland. They occassionally occur inland, and, rarely, on the West Coast in winter.

We fell lucky to have glimpsed a look at this secretive, interesting bird and even to have gotten some photos to share with you.

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