Saturday, June 19, 2010

Celebrating my One-year Anniversary! Bird Song Quiz

First of all I 'd like to thank all of you who are reading my blog, who have commented on it and who signed up as followers. Having an audience makes the blog come alive for me --  I am not just talking to myself. Of course, I reciprocate by visiting your blog and leave comments. I am happy to be a member of this great worldwide birding community.  

I started this blog a year ago after I witnessed the terrible toll taken on Northern Gannet chicks and adult birds by abandoned fishing nets. Until then I had just been posting my bird photos on my website, but with the blog I had hoped to make more people aware of the plight of these sea birds.

So, I started it as a pure birding blog, but lately I have also included some observations on nature and art. These are the two poles of my life: art and science. I started out as a free lance artist, before switching to medicine. Now it's time again to attend to my creative side, not in painting and drawing as before, but in photography.

Although identifying warblers by their songs continues to be a tremendous challenge, sometimes I luck out in getting a photo of one. This Blackburnian Warbler was sitting on the weathered top of a conifer basking in the morning sun.

But most of the time, with the foliage so dense, all I can do is trying to identify birds by their songs in the recordings that I bring home. It's a challenge; I try to match them up with birds most likely to be present. Over the past year I have collected a number of recordings and thought it would be fun to post some of them as a quiz. Some of them are quite easy, others are more difficult. The last one is an unknown to me. My answers are in the comment section.

First, a bird announces his approach to my feeder:

Second, heard from near the top of a neighbor's tall trees

Third, heard deep in a conifer forest.

Fourth, not a song but the call of a colorful bird at home in the upper reaches of a deciduous forest.

Fifth, the plaintive call of a mother looking for her chicks.

Sixth, heard near a pond in a forest.

Seventh, heard in a wooded area. It sounds easy, but I can't figure it out. If you have the answer, please let me know what it is!

On Hogback Mountain a field of ferns

Thanks for stopping by and please leave a comment, whether in answer to the quiz or just because...


  1. One, a red-bellied woodpecker. Two, red-tailed hawk. Three, black-throated green warbler. Four, scarlet tanager. Five, wild turkey hen. Six, prothonotary warbler. Seven, unknown.

  2. The seventh one sounds like a Prairie Warbler to me. The description of woods doesn't fit the bird but who knows. To add to the quiz its fun to try and ID the background birds too...such as the Eastern Wood Pewee, Red eyed Vireo and Common Yellowthroat in the last one. Nice post.

  3. Also...the third one is a Blackpoll Warbler.

  4. Thanks Larry. I went back to look at my previous recording of a Prairie Warbler in my post "What's it about birding" and the two are awfully close. Yet the one I posted here was recorded in a deep wood setting during a walk up Mount Wantastiquet when I was looking for a reported Cerulean Warbler. I find it easier to compare the two by looking at the spectrograms and posted them on my website at
    You be the judge.

    I also searched for a Blackpoll spectrogram to compare it with what I labled a Black-throated Green Warbler. I could only come up with thumbnails from the BNA site. Here is a composite of the respective spectrograms:

    Both mine and Cornell's spectrogram of the BTGW show a dip followed by a rise at the end. The Blackpoll does not.

    You probably have a better ear than I do and so I'll go by what you say.

  5. Congratulations on your anniversary! It has been a good year. I loved hearing those recordings; in my area, Scarlet Tanagers and most warblers only pass through during migration, so I never get to hear them sing--so it's great for me to hear them. Good stuff!

  6. Happy blogversary! You got a very ncie picture of this warbler ;-)

  7. ...Happy Anniversary!! Great photo of the Blackburnian. I love seeing those fellows in the trees...such a beautiful color. Liked your birding challenged too. I hear the last one a lot in the deep woods around the Little Miami River, but he's never flown into view!

  8. Thanks for your comments, Felicia, Chris and Kelly!

  9. Congratulations Hilke! I have had Prairie Warblers in odd places before including high elevations, but I usually see there is scrubby habitat nearby. Love your recordings.

  10. Congratulations on your aniiversery!! You have some great photos and audio to celebrate it with.

  11. Those are pretty nice recordings...did you think about posting them on Xeno-Canto?


  12. Thank you, Laurent!! I had never heard of this site - it has everything that I need, incl. sonogram, when looking up bird songs. And I have started uploading some recordings.

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  14. Congratulations!
    Playing the bird calls my dogs ears perked and she gave the wondering head tilt.

  15. Thanks Andy! I take that as a doggy compliment.

  16. Hilke, I thoroughly enjoyed this post, although I know NADA of North American bird calls.
    So I hade to compare with a South American or European bird calls that I know.
    Knowing a lot of birdcalls in one part of the world makes it easier to remember completely new calls.

    1. Clearly a woodpecker, but I did not know which.
    2. I knew straight away it was a Buzzard = Buteo. Knowing that red-tailed is the most ocmmon this was my guess. YES!!
    3. Sounds a bit like a Kinglet - and mentioning confireous forest this is where my mind was.
    4. Sounds like a Manakin to me. Not unsimilar to some calls of Yungas Manakin.
    5.Something like in between a Trumpeter Finch and Anden Coot
    6. Not unsimilar to Yellowhammer without inflicted final note.

    It will help me remember these calls when visiting North America next time.

  17. Belated congratulations on your blog anniversary Hilke.
    Enjoyed listening to the calls. FAB.

  18. I love the sounds of all of the birds on your blog. Congratulations on your blog anniversary -- it's always a pleasure to read your posts!

  19. How about Northern Parula for number 7?

    ( and here's another great site you may not know about with recordings:

  20. Thanks, Barbara. Northern Parula is awfully close. However it turned out to be a Pairie Warbler, based on the sonogram which I compared to the sonogram on, and also comparing it to an earlier recording I had made (see my June 4 post) of a Pairie Warbler. Based on the location it never occurred to me to check the PW song, but it turned out that "deep in the woods" was actually close to a forest edge which abounded with Prairie Warblers. Thanks also for the Dendroica link. I signed up.

  21. pretty sure that last one is a Parula. cool blog


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