Eastern vs. Western Purple Martins

Eastern vs. Western Purple Martins

In 1984, researcher Charles Brown reported differences between eastern and western Purple Martins in several types of vocalizations. Since the original study was conducted at only two sites, I’m curious whether the findings can be generalized across the continent. Do all eastern martins sound like the ones at Brown’s site in Texas, and all western martins like the ones at his site in Arizona? Or do Purple Martins show patterns of regional variation all across North America? Let’s check the reported differences against available recordings.

Book launch imminent!

Book launch imminent!

The Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America will be available in stores on Tuesday, March 7! Last Thursday I talked about the book with Mark Lynch of WICN – you can hear that interview online. Tomorrow morning (Sunday March 5), I’ll be interviewed live on Ray Brown’s show Talkin’ Birds, which is syndicated all over New England! Listen in at 9:30 AM Eastern. I will be doing a lot of traveling this year to promote the…

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Ever heard of Pine Flycatcher?

Ever heard of Pine Flycatcher?

The purpose of this blog post is to draw attention to one of the least known Empidonax species, one that has yet to appear in the ABA area, but is high on the list of many a birder as a potential vagrant. The bird I am speaking of is Pine Flycatcher (Empidonax affinis). An inhabitant of montane forests from just shy of the Arizona border to northern Central America, it favors (as one would expect) pine-dominated woodland.

The Toughest Birds to Record in North America

The Toughest Birds to Record in North America

But ask a recordist about the toughest birds in the ABA area and you’ll get a very different list. Most of the species that I talk about below aren’t really “hard” birds to see. Some of them can be downright common in the right areas. But what makes a bird hard to record can be quite different than what makes it hard to find.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody

Waxwings have some of the simplest repertoires of all passerines, with no true “song”, or at least none that has been documented. And even their calls are typically variations on the same trill. Or so I thought.