The little perching bird succeeds the skylark as this year’s avian champion, chosen by BirdLife Switzerland for its virtuosic singing and peerless imitation skills.
The marsh warbler is even smaller than a sparrow, but it’s remarkable singing is unmistakeable, BirdLife wrote on ThursdayExternal link. Particularly around dawn, and through the night, it keeps up an almost ceaseless stream of whistles and clicks, interrupted only by imitations of some 200 other species.
And not satisfied to merely mimic species native to Switzerland, the warbler also takes off southeast African birds which it came across during its winter migrations – its rich range of imitation targets is unique in Europe, BirdLife said.
Returning north after winter in the second half of May, it is also one of the latest summer arrivals back to Switzerland, where its habitat is damp areas with dense vegetation, such as ditches and lakeshores.
However, the areas favoured by the marsh warbler are shrinking, BirdLife says. And with the widespread draining of Swiss wetlands, it has virtually no more places left to colonise outside protected areas.
BirdLife recommends the extension of current wetlands and the preservation of others, as a means to ensure the long-term survival of the marsh warbler and other wetland birds.
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