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

Hey all-
the best approach here (and in many cases of documentation) is to both
describe what you heard, AND describe exactly how you ruled out other
species, even if you did so unconsciously. Cover all the bases and
overwhelm the records committee. As mentioned, N. Waterthrush is one of the
warblers with a really big song - it's very loud. It shares this with
Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Connecticut Warbler, and Kentucky Warbler.
Carolina Wrens also have very loud songs (though structurally quite
different than waterthrush).

Other things to describe - the number of parts to the song, and define the
parts (I tend to think of N Waterthrush having 3 part songs, L. Waterthrush
3-4, depending on how you define it). Say whether those parts were
generally increasing/decreasing in pitch or staying even. Say something
about the notes that make up each part. Mention loudness, harshness, nasal
quality.

The issue is that the committee or ebird reviewer will say to themselves
"What other options fit the stated description?" Even if one of those is
not necessarily more likely, if it's at all reasonable compared with your
potential record, they won't be able to rule it out and will not be able to
accept the record.

I for one would focus on being clear about how you ruled out Louisiana
Waterthrush, which can produce song with many of the same characteristics
as Northern, and in migration could very easily occur in the same habitat.
It is also expected to arrive before Northern Waterthrush, and therefore
would be a species that reviewers would want to rule out.

Jesse Ellis
Madison, WI

On Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 1:10 PM, Tom Wood <tcwood729@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> 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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-- 
Jesse Ellis
Post-doctoral Researcher
Dept. of Zoology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Madison, Dane Co, WI


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