Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.


You are here

Voices and Vocabularies - Three Hidden Sparrows

Sparrow songs entice us to listen!
© Daniel Cadieux View Large

Some birds have a remarkable knack for staying out of sight. Often we don’t know they’re nearby, until they sing. But with a little practice, we can learn to identify birds without seeing them. Listen to the songs of the Song Sparrow, the Chipping Sparrow, and the White-throated Sparrow — like this one. Notice the differences between the songs — and imagine how birding by ear might enhance your experience in nature!

Full Transcript



Voices and Vocabularies - Three Hidden Sparrows Sing

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[White-throated Sparrow song; Song Sparrow song; Chipping Sparrow Song]

Some birds — sparrows come to mind — have a remarkable knack for staying out of sight. We sometimes don’t even know they’re nearby until they sing. [Chipping Sparrow song] But when they do, we can — with a little practice — tell who’s who without seeing them at all.

Listen to the first singer. [White-throated Sparrow song] Pure, long, whistled notes in a very distinct pattern. Some say it sounds like “Old Sam Pea, Peabody, Peabody”. [White-throated Sparrow song] This is the exquisite song of a White-throated Sparrow. 

Then we hear a second hidden sparrow, offering a song very different from the first: [Song Sparrow song] a series of short, ringing notes, tottering into an abrupt, buzzy phrase. [Song Sparrow song] Meet the Song Sparrow. 

Now the third in the trio: [Chipping Sparrow song] a long, dry trill. A simple song, you might say, neither whistled nor jumbled like the first two. Say hello to the Chipping Sparrow [Chipping Sparrow song]. 

Even if we can’t see the birds, the songs of sparrows entice us to listen. White-throated Sparrow [White-throated Sparrow song] Song Sparrow [Song Sparrow song] Chipping Sparrow [Chipping Sparrow Song].

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.


Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. White-throated Sparrow song #66750 recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.  Song Sparrow song #44866 recorded by G.A. Keller. Chipping Sparrow song and ambient #84756 recorded by W.L. Hershberger.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2016 Tune In to  March 2013/2016  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#       sound-14-2013-03-14 sound-14

Sights & Sounds

Related topics:

Related field notes: