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]

New Crossbill Compendium

Ken Irwin is best known for discovering a new call type (Type 10), and his paper describing it is coming out in the next issue of Western Birds. When I talked to Ken on the phone last year, he was also hard at work on a website that would include sound files of all the types, their excitement calls, their begging calls, their songs, etcetera. Now that website is up, and everyone interested in crossbills should go see it. [Read more]

AOU Checklist News!

The North American Checklist Committee of the American Ornithologists’ Union has published the results of its deliberations on the first round of proposed changes from 2009, and it has updated the slate of proposals currently under consideration. Here’s a quick summary of the changes that affect species splits north of Mexico. [Read more]

Evening Grosbeak Call Types

In 2004, a paper appeared in the Condor by Kendra Sewall, Rodd Kelsey and Tom Hahn that described several different variants of flight calls in the Evening Grosbeak. This post aims to provide an introduction to the different “types” and how to tell them apart. [Read more]

What We Don’t Know About Bird Sounds

A while back I mentioned my long-standing desire to post a list of things we don’t know about North American bird sounds, with an emphasis on the simple questions that amateur sound recordists could answer. I’ve finally decided to take a crack at it. [Read more]

The Alternate Song of Prothonotary Warbler

During the two weeks I spent walking around in the White River National Wildlife Refuge in 2006, I had many spectacular close-up encounters with wildlife, but the most amazing was with a male Prothonotary Warbler. [Read more]

The Crossbill Quiz: Answers

Here are the answers to the quiz from the last post. [Read more]

The Crossbill Quiz

Last week I facilitated the Sound Identification Panel at the Western Field Ornithologists Conference, which is a wonderful privilege I have been treated to for each of the last four years. In front of a large live audience, I quizzed an expert panel on crossbill sounds. Can you meet the challenge of identifying the common western Red Crossbill call types? [Read more]

New Listserv Alert

Last spring Chris Tessaglia-Hymes of Cornell University started a listserv devoted to the discussion of nocturnal migration. The listserv started off slow, but it has slowly gained participants (including, just recently, yours truly), and now that the southbound nocturnal migration is in full swing across North America, the postings are really picking up. This is a great opportunity to join (or just to listen in on) the national conversation about nocturnal flight calls. [Read more]

The Fall Challenge

I’ve noticed that an awful lot of nature sound recordists in North America have traditionally focused on recording in the spring and early summer. Between August and December, it seems like almost nobody goes out with a microphone. We’re heading into that traditional “dead period” now, and I just want to point out that no matter where you live, there are some terrific opportunities for recording (and listening to) some of the most interesting and worthwhile sounds of the entire year. [Read more]