A singing male was at Morongo Valley SBE 7 July 2002 (left); an adult (above) was banded by Big Sur Ornithology Lab at Big Sur R. mouth MTY in May 1996. I just happened to be at BSOL when it was brought in from a net, and so obtained this in-hand photo.
The YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT is a generally uncommon and local summer resident of dense riparian thickets throughout the lowlands in California, but numbers have declined with loss of riparian habitat statewide. When present, though, its presence can be obvious because of its loud mimicking song. Yet birds can be surprisingly difficult to actually see. Migrants are widespread but thinly distributed and skulking and therefore rarely seen. Winter birds are exceptional.
All of my California records have been breeders on territory at the usual sites, or migrants at the proper time and place. I don't think I've ever seen anything that could be called a "vagrant" chat. It was fun, however, to follow some around long enough to confirm breeding during the Monterey County breeding bird atlas.
See the family page for county abbreviations. All photos & text
© 2003 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.
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