Bioacoustics Almanac — June Listening Together Project
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This month’s bioacoustics Almanac will feature species at risk nesting in Nova Scotia.
The Canada Warbler is listed as “threatened” in the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and “endangered” by the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act (NSESA). The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada recently down listed its status from “threatened” to “special concern” as the species has shown some improvement in population trends. It is one of the last of the neotropical warblers to arrive in the spring and among the first to depart in the autumn. It nests in forested wetlands. The song often starts with a hard chip note before warbling, “what-who me-not me-she did it.” (Painting: Louis Agassiz Fuertes; Sound: Xeno-Canto, Martin St-Michel).
The Olive-sided Flycatcher is listed as “threatened” in SARA and as “threatened” in NSESA. It is also a bird inhabiting forested wetlands. The species has a very large territory with a pair defending 40-45 hectares. They are easily spotted in the field due to their habit of perching at the top of a snag or tree on the lookout for flying insects. It’s song is another give-away of its presence, “quick-THREE BEERS.” It spends the winter primarily in Panama and the Andes of South America (Painting: Louis Agassiz Fuertes: Sound: Xeno-Canto, Martin St-Michel).
The Rusty Blackbird is listed as “special concern” in SARA and as “endangered” in the NSESA. It too nests in forested wetlands. Early accounts by Nova Scotia naturalists indicate this was once our most common blackbird. However, its numbers have declined precipitously by 85-90% over the last 4o years. Today it is difficult to find one. The cause of this decline is not well understood. This species nests further north than any other blackbird in Canada; its range extending to the edge of the treeline. It’s song is said to resemble the creaking of a rusty hinge or the fast forwarding of a cassette tape (Painting by Rex Brasher; Sound: Xeno-Canto, Andrew Spencer).
The Barn Swallow is listed as “threatened” in SARA and “endangered” in the NSESA. There are few places in the world that one can visit and not see a Barn Swallow. Between its breeding and winter ranges, it is present on most of the land mass of the world. It is closely associated with human civilization and its structures. There are numerous legends throughout the world about the Barn Swallow and the fortune or misfortune brought upon humans by helping or hurting this bird. Apart from the birds of falconry, the Barn Swallow was the first bird species to receive legal protection. A decree in the City of Milan in 1496 prohibited any interference with their nesting. Both males and females sing a long twittering warble. The populations of Barn Swallows are considered healthy in most of the world, except in Canada where there have been significant declines (Painting: Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Sound: Xeno-Canto, Martin St-Michel).