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Mistaken Identity

Bird songs that can fool you!

This Band-tailed Pigeon may sound like an owl, but it's a case of mistaken identity. The song of the American Robin could be confused with that of the Black-headed Grosbeak. And then, there's the Black-capped Chickadee. At certain times of year, the male sings "Fee-bee, fee-bee," even though it's not a phoebe. Listen to this show again -- or for more bird songs and calls, check out the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at Cornell University.

Full Transcript


Mistaken Identity

Written by Ellen Blackstone

This is BirdNote!
[Sounds of a Band-tailed Pigeon]
This sort of sounds like an owl, doesn’t it?
[Sounds of a Band-tailed Pigeon]
But even though this bird sounds like an owl, it’s not. It’s actually a Band-tailed Pigeon, a case of mistaken identity. Most owls have calls far more complex than “Who, who.” Listen to this Barred Owl! [Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?]
Here’s another pair of songs that could confuse you. The American Robin — [Cheerily cheerily song of the American Robin] — and the Black-headed Grosbeak. [Song of the Black- headed Grosbeak] Some say the grosbeak sounds like a drunken robin. Here it is again. [Song of the Black-headed Grosbeak]
Now if a bird were named for its song, [Fee-bee song of the eastern Black-capped Chickadee] this bird would probably be called a “phoebe.” But it isn’t. It’s a Black-capped Chickadee and it’s the call for which the chickadee got its name: [Chicka-dee-dee-dee call]. There is a real bird named a “phoebe.” [Song of Eastern Phoebe] This Eastern Phoebe says its name, too, but the song is not nearly as plaintive as that of the chickadee. [Song of Eastern Phoebe]
And then, there’s the mockingbird… [A barrage of mockingbird song, continuing through end] It sounds like EVERYbody else! But more about the mockingbird another day.
Listen to all these songs and calls again at our web site,
[A barrage of mockingbird song]
Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.  Call of the Band-tailed Pigeon and song of the Black-headed Grosbeak recorded by T.A. Sanders.  Call of the Barred Owl and Black-capped Chickadee recorded by G.A. Keller.  Song of Eastern Phoebe by W.W.H. Gunn. Song of the American Robin and Northern Mockingbird recorded by W.L. Hershberger.  Call of the Black-capped Chickadee recorded by R.S. Little.
Producer:  John Kessler
Executive Producer:  Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to     Oct 2018     Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# 040907identityKPLU                 birding-07b-2010-04-07


Sights & Sounds

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