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Instrumental Bird Sounds

Feathers and bills make fascinating music!

Birds communicate with a fascinating array of instrumental sounds, and nearly all are made with their feathers or bills. The territorial drumming of a woodpecker - like this Black-backed Woodpecker - is one example. American Crows clatter their beaks to make rattling sounds. And the remarkable drumming of a Ruffed Grouse is produced by a rapid beating of its wings. Be sure to watch the video!

Full Transcript



Instrumental Bird Sounds

Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
Listen for a moment to this remarkable drumming of a Ruffed Grouse. [Ruffed Grouse drumming] The resulting percussion, produced by a rapid beating of the wings, is a vivid example of a non-vocal or instrumental bird sound.
Birds communicate with a fascinating array of instrumental sounds, and nearly all are made by their feathers or bills. A woodpecker’s territorial drumming [Northern Flicker drumming] is a familiar example. The bird raps its bill briskly against the most resonant nearby object, which is sometimes the metal vent pipe on your roof.
 [Northern Flicker drumming]
The male Wilson’s Snipe creates a magical, flute-like sound in flight, fluttering its wings to direct the flow of air over outspread tail feathers. [Wilson’s Snipe winnowing]
Listen to this American Crow. [American Crow bill clatter] It makes this clattering sound by rattling the edges of its bill together. [American Crow bill clatter]
And an American Bittern’s comical burps [American Bittern “oonk-a-loonk”] are, well, burps, made by swallowing air and then releasing it. [American Bittern “oonk-a-loonk”]
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Ruffed Grouse drumming recorded by R.S. Little; drumming of Northern Flicker by D.S. Herr; winnowing of Wilson’s Snipe by W.L. Hershberger; American Bittern by S.R. Pantle. Bill clattering of American Crow by Martyn Stewart,
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to                June 2017/2020  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# 062806nonvoxKPLU                     sound-03b MS

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