The Warbler Guide

I am confident that this book will enhance the way people look at warblers. I am less confident, but ardently hopeful, that it will enhance the way they listen to warblers as well. [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]

Cornell’s Master Set

The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has just released what it’s calling the “Master Set” – the most comprehensive audio guide to North American bird sounds ever published. [Read more]

“Russet-backed” vs. “Olive-backed” Swainson’s Thrushes

Over the past decade, the work of Kristen Ruegg and her colleagues has shown that the two forms of Swainson’s Thrush not only look different, but migrate on different schedules to markedly different wintering grounds. They hybridize in a contact zone in British Columbia, but that contact zone is quite narrow, prompting occasional rumors and rumblings of a potential future species split. One of the proposed lines of evidence concerns differences in vocalizations. [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]

Greater vs. Lesser Yellowlegs

Can you tell Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs apart by voice? Can anybody? [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]