Top photo: Crossbill (vocal type unknown), Bashkino, Moscow region, Russia. 17th November 2007. Sergey Yeliseev.
Bird sound is a fascinating aspect of our interest in birds. The longer I have been birding the more I realise that the majority of the time, it is bird calls and song that attract my attention, often well before the visual stimulus. Last week I recorded several different Crossbill vocal types locally to me. Parakeet Crossbill, British Crossbill and Glip Crossbill were all heard and confirmed by sonogram. In North American there are another 9 vocal types, which it is argued may well behave and should be regarded as full species. My 3 Crossbill types were, intriguingly, all in distinct groups. Recording bird sound is relatively new to me- indeed a whole world of discovery!
Recording of a flock of ‘Glip Crossbills‘ (long vertical tick shapes) with a Red Grouse calling in background (double row of dark blobs at lower pitch), near Sheffield UK, November 2010
I never know where new learning is going to come from. There are only 16 houses on my road, and I suppose I thought of myself as the ‘bird expert’ of the street. Indeed I assumed there were no other birders on the street. Little did I know! Last summer 2 of my neighbours, Geoff and Corolla, to my complete surprise, invited me to go and for an evening walk to look for Nightjars. Nightjars! I am the streets only birder! I had no idea they would have even heard of a Nightjar, never mind know where to stake one out.
Having been surprised once, I still wasn’t expecting last weeks conversation. Geoff came over as I got out of my car to tell me about his favourite bird song. Robin? Nightingale? No. Musician Wren.
Musician Wren? I am sure Gunnar knows about this South America species, but I had never heard of it. Geoff’s favourite bird song and he guided me to have a listen to it on Xeno-Canto (bird sound website). By now I was floored.
Well hats off to Geoff and a rebuke to me for my ignorant assumptions about my neighbours. It’s clear that the more I learn the more I realise how little I know – about both birds and my neighbours!
Just in case you have never heard the song of a Musician Wren, it is pretty cool. Have a listen and see why Geoff likes it.
And my favourite bird sound ever? Have a look at this: