A Bicknell’s Thrush Critique

In 1995, in the 40th Supplement to their checklist, the American Ornithologists’ Union recognized Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) as a full species, splitting it from the Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) on the basis of “differences in morphology, vocalizations, habitat preferences, and migration patterns.” In this post, I reassess the evidence for a consistent difference in flight calls between Bicknell’s and Gray-cheeked Thrushes. [Read more]

Long Calls of Gulls

Most people don’t listen to gulls much. But as I’ve paid more attention to them over the past year, I’ve realized that many species can indeed be identified by sound alone, and this fact has greatly improved my birding skills. [Read more]

Empid Mystery Solved!

Remember the mysterious two-part call of the unidentified Empid? Nacho Areta has filled in the missing piece of the puzzle. [Read more]

More on the Mystery Empid Call

A few months ago I wrote about a mysterious new “whit-beert” call that I took to be a previously undescribed sound of Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Now, new information has come to light that calls my earlier conclusions into question. [Read more]

The “Tink” Call

Many species of warbler and sparrow give high, sharp “tink” notes that seem worth of their own category, separate from the “call” and the “flight call.” [Read more]

Learning Laplands

In trying to catalog Lapland Longspur calls, I ended up making a map of variation. [Read more]

The Visual Power of GIFs

Ornithologists use the term variety to describe the pattern of delivery of a bird song over time. In the field, it can take many minutes of listening to determine a bird’s pattern. Animated GIFs of spectrograms can condense all this listening into just a few seconds of looping video: [Read more]

What’s Weird About Rusty Blackbirds

Several authors have described Rusty Blackbirds as having two types of songs. However, I came to the conclusion that I was hearing three different types of songs from the species, not two. Or is that two types of song and a very song-like call? [Read more]

The Dawn Song of Brown Creeper

If you had asked me six months ago whether Brown Creeper had a distinctive dawn song, I would have told you no. But as a matter of fact, it does. [Read more]

Video Library: Large Gulls

The internet is full of wild bird videos. If you want to learn about the behavior and vocalizations, it can be a great place to start, at least for certain species. Gulls are a terrific example. [Read more]