This is very topic that’s been on my mind this spring too! We had a common yellowthroat who sang his customary witchety-whitchety song upon arriving this spring. A few weeks later I was being awakened by a loud unfamiliar refrain (5-7 cheeps on one note) outside my window, always coming from the same two nearby trees. This call transitioned to these 5-7 notes plus a faint upward twist that sounded like the upswing in a goldfinches song. It took days to visually locate him, and it was a Yellowthroat. About two weeks after that confirmation, he transitioned back to his textbook song and has been singing it ever since. I've wondered if the song transitioning might be tied to nesting cycles.
I’ve had equally puzzling scenarios with Blackburnians and black-throated blues, whose uncharacteristic calls were not represented in all of the Macaulay Library recordings that I had time to quickly review. In both cases, again, the unfamiliar, repeating refrains lasted for about 2-3 weeks after initial familiar phrasing and are now returning to customary songs for each. Would love to hear about any literature or web links that explore these song behaviors, if anyone comes across them.
Cherrie Corey Marlboro, VT
> On Jun 18, 2018, at 9:37 AM, Fred and Chris Pratt <pipit...> wrote: > > Don't forget that even your ears aren't what they used to be! But the variations in songs among individuals of the same species (and indeed of the same individual) are pretty scary from the point of view of safely identifying the singer. Liz mentions three well-known culprits (Chestnut-sided, Yellow, and American Redstart) and intimates a fourth (Yellow-rumped). I would add Magnolia to the list - a multiple songster whose repertoire can overlap that of the American Redstart. > > poor puzzled Pipit > > > On 6/18/2018 7:49 AM, Alison Wagner wrote: >> Thanks, Liz! I have heard Red-eyeds do a convincing Acadian Flycatcher snippet, and a Purple Finch imitate a Phoebe perfectly. The key sometimes to figuring them out is when the "counterfeit song" is heard repeatedly in the exact same part of the singers rendition! >> >> Bird is the word. >> >> Ali >> >> -----Original Message----- From: Liz Lackey >> Sent: Monday, June 18, 2018 7:33 AM >> To: <VTBIRD...> >> Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Unusual singer! >> >> Ali et al, >> >> The more I bird, the more “interesting” calls I hear. A week ago on Mt Mansfield, the Stowe Area Birders group heard a 2 part buzz song having 2 different pitches. Luckily we could see the Junco singing as we never would have believed it otherwise. I’ve had Yellow-rumped warblers give a textbook rendition of a Nashville Warbler. I’ve watched a male Redstart sing 4 completely different songs, going thru its repertoire over and over. Same with Yellow warblers and Chestnut-sideds. I’ve seen the male of each sing a different song everytime it opened it’s mouth, running thru it’s repertoire of 2-4 songs. Talk about confusing Fall warblers. How about confusing songs of warblers. >> >> Has this song variation always been the case and we are just more aware of it as the collective hours we spend in observation increases? Is it something new going on in the birds? One can never see presented in a guide book all the possible plumage variations for a given bird. Maybe we should realize this is the case with their songs as well. >> >> Regardless, my ears really perk up when I hear an unusual song, a partial song, or a “geez, that sounds familiar but what is it”, song. I never assume now who the originator will be, and it always gives me a reason to get a glimpse of the bird and solve another “mystery”, (or get confused even more). >> >> Keep your eyes and ears tuned up, and let’s wonder at this new generation of fledgling birds having to learn their future adult songs. Let’s hope they can keep it all straight! >> >> Liz >> Stowe, VT >> >>> On Jun 18, 2018, at 7:05 AM, Alison Wagner <alikatofvt...> wrote: >>> >>> Good Morning! >>> >>> The alarm went off around 5:15 this morning, only I did not set one. What I was hearing was similar to a radio alarm I had back in the twentieth century. Whoever it was, it had my full attention, so I immediately recorded it and then sought it out. I live in the woods, in the foothills on the western slope of the Green Mountains. Totally wrong habitat for a Clay-colored Sparrow, which I’d say it “sounded like” (but wrong note, cadence, etc.) if I had to describe it to someone. Easily, I located him on a pine branch, a summer resident here for sure....Gray above, light underside, pink bill, cheerleader skirt (white outer feathers on an otherwise gray tail). A junco with a sore throat? Watching him tilt his head while simultaneously hearing the buzzes left no doubt. I wondered if he has had any luck attracting a female. Sure got my attention...nice alarm. >>> >>> Ali >>> Huntington >>> >>> https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46630712?share=true >>