[wisb] Re: What else sounds like... Menominee Co.

I have on occasion heard a Northern Waterthrush and thought Connecticut
Warbler. Both have loud, rather choppy songs and I am not very good at
sound identification, being able to identify probably only a bit better than
50% of the birds I hear. Also, when you are hoping for something like a
Connecticut
Warbler, any similar song probably makes the sought after species jump into
your head. In your case, Connecticut Warbler would be the least likely
species
you would hear in April or early May since they are late migrants. Besides,
you probably know both species well and wouldn't have to think about what
you were hearing, anyway.
Some species lend themselves well to song description. Whip-poor-will ,
Chuck-will's-widow, Yellow Rail, The Empidonax flycatcher complex, etc. But
how would you document the song of a goldfinch, House Finch, or a Winter
Wren? Those would be too complex for me to even attempt.
I guess the best one can do when attempting a description of a song would be
to describe the general nature of the song (trill, phrases, buzzy sounds,
whistles, grunts,etc), then describe how many syllables you hear and which
syllable has the strongest emphasis, if there is variation. Does the song
rise in pitch or fall in pitch? Is it delivered rapidly (Prairie Warbler) or
slowly (like Red-eyed Vireo)? High frequency (Cape May Warbler) or lower
(Mourning Warbler).
I use mnemonic devices (Fitz-bew for Willow Flycatcher) to remember some
songs and these would probably be helpful to a records committee in getting
a feel for what you heard, even though everybody probably uses different
ones.
I hope you can come up with something to document your Northern Waterthrush
because it would add to the remarkable early occurrence data that has
characterized this spring. I think that in the "previous experience with
species..." section you should probably note that the location was a known
location for
the species last year.

Thomas Wood,Menomonee Falls, Waukesha County

-----Original Message-----
From: wisbirdn-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:wisbirdn-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Nancy Richmond
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 9:38 PM
To: Wisbirdn
Subject: [wisb] What else sounds like... Menominee Co.

Hi All -
I ran the second replicate of my Red-Shouldered Hawk Survey Route in
Northwestern Menominee County this morning (with Tribal permission). I had
more Barred owls calling than on my Owl Survey route and even saw one! And
more Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers than most people see in a year (34 in 3
hours) This is great habitat for woodpeckers! I had a couple Red-Shoulders
respond verbally, but didn't see any.

My question is... What else sounds similar to a Northern Waterthrush?
I heard what I am certain is a Northern Waterthrush in appropriate habitat.
eBird asked for confirmation. I haven't found a good way to describe sound
in type. Imitating a bird song is only slightly better - how limited we
humans are vocally! So I typed the stupid sounding explanation (wouldn't
pass muster with the Records Committee).... "it matches the call on the CD"
Which it did. Exactly. And even if I hadn't had the Stokes Bird songs along,
I was certain that's what it was. It's pretty distinctive. Loud, ringing.
with that whippy little ending. Singing in a wooded swamp...
 (Same swamp had the same call last spring too)

I didn't have time to find the bird and get visual confirmation - I was
running a survey protocol.

So eBird asked for confirmation of today's bird and I provided my lame
evidence.

The big problem is I heard the exact same call in the same spot on my first
run of the hawk route, which was April 5. If it is/was a Northern
Waterthrush, it would have been record early for the state. There are only
3 records before April 14 - 2 in Milwaukee county 1 in Door. So here I am
better than halfway up the state with a bird that would break the record by
4 days.  How likely is that?...hmmm

So.. what might it be, if it wasn't a Northern Waterthrush? I really am
interested in similar sounding birds that would be less unlikely, even
though I'm about 90 % sure :-)

And a more general question - Can you document "heard only" birds
adequately? How?

Nancy Richmond
Polar- Langlade Co.


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