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vocalization

Nighttime Flights of Songbirds

Some cloudless night in September, when the air is clear, you may see birds flying across the yellow face of the moon! September is peak migration time for millions of songbirds heading south from North America to more tropical latitudes. Nocturnal migrants of the same species, such as orioles,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Night Voices of Summer

At the close of a summer day, the songbirds go silent. As if on cue, the birds of the night make their voices known. In an Eastern woodland, the eerie trills and whinnies of an Eastern Screech-Owl are among the first sounds of the night. Meanwhile, as night falls west of the Rockies, the Western... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound, vocalization

The Meadowlark and Water Ouzel - featuring Gordon Hempton

Gordon Hempton, the Soundtracker, likens the joy he feels after a day of recording Western Meadowlarks (their eastern cousin is seen here on the left...) to the experience of John Muir, who knew individual American Dippers (also known as Water Ouzels; seen here on the right) by their songs.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording, reflection, sound, vocalization

Tweets 'n' Squawks: Learn How to Identify Birds by Song

Nothing signals spring quite like singing birds. As the length of days increase, male birds begin to sing to protect their territories from neighboring males and advertise their presence to nearby females. In spring, those males are vibrantly colored and may be easy to see, because they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound, vocalization

The Mockingbird - A Virtuoso of Variety

This aptly named Northern Mockingbird might imitate, in succession, birds as different as a bobwhite quail, a chat, a sandpiper — even a cardinal — then cap it off with the meow of a cat and a few phrases of car alarm. In spring, a male mockingbird sings all day, with hundreds of variations ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, species account, vocalization

Comparing Chickadee Calls

In the Pacific Northwest, you might see both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees at your birdfeeder. The Chestnut-back (seen here) sounds different from the Black-capped Chickadee. The call of the Black-capped follows the familiar “Chick-a-dee, dee, dee” pattern. But the call of the... read more »

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Winter Wren in a Carolina Cathedral, With Gordon Hempton

Gordon Hempton, the Sound Tracker, records the sounds of nature in pristine places. Mesmerized by a Winter Wren singing in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest of the Carolinas, Gordon chased the bird up and down a mountain before capturing its song at close range. But when he listened to the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

Voices and Vocabularies - Exquisite Thrush Songs

Some believe the song of the Wood Thrush to be the most beautiful bird song in North America. Others select the song of the Hermit Thrush. Still others name the singing of the Swainson’s Thrush. How do thrushes like this Veery create such fine music? The answer is that the birds have a double... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science, sound, vocalization

Voices and Vocabularies - Robin's Evening Song

During the day, an American Robin, a member of the thrush family, sings a lovely, familiar song of rich phrases. But as the sun begins to set, robin song takes on a different character. From sunset until dark, a robin adds ethereal whispered notes to its carol, creating a song of remarkable grace... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

American Robins Are Exceptional Singers

As singers go, American Robins are exceptional. They’re often the first birds to sing in the morning, and the last you’ll hear in the evening. While their average song strings fewer than a dozen short phrases together and lasts only a few seconds, robins sometimes sing for minutes without a pause... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

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