What was once a bird that made just a few simple, short chips or churrs suddenly has a large and varied repertoire that includes complicated aerial acrobatics and sounds as varied as low-pitched hooting to amazingly insect-like twittering. The first time I stood out on the tundra in Alaska I was blown away by everything I was seeing and hearing, and I’ve never looked at shorebirds the same way again.
On the field marks and audio cues that separate nominate Brewer’s Sparrows from the “Timberline” subspecies.
I’m starting to think that voice is actually a very good character — maybe the best field character — for separating these two species.
The Florida Museum of Natural History has put its huge collection of bird sound recordings online in digital format for the first time.
Bird sounds vary on many levels. When talking about variation, it would be nice to be able to distinguish exactly which kind of variation we mean.
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.
Tone quality is the distinctive voice of a sound — the thing that allows you to tell the difference between a violin and a trumpet when they’re both playing the same note. It comes in very handy when identifying birds by sound, but people have tended to differ in their notions of how to describe it. Today we’ll introduce basic tone quality vocabulary.
Now that we’ve looked at the five basic pitch patterns and the four basic song patterns, let’s explore a couple of ways to extend and combine the vocabulary we’ve learned.
In the last post, I covered the five basic pitch patterns, introducing some vocabulary to help distinguish between different types of individual notes. Today I’m going to introduce some vocabulary to help distinguish between different types of groups of notes — that is, different types of songs.
The “How to Read Spectrograms” section of this blog is in desperate need of an upgrade, so today I’m starting a series of posts to help people describe and visualize sounds as simply and clearly as possible. Our first topic: pitch patterns.