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cynthiatk

bird song i.d. please

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For years now I have heard three beautiful very clear loud descending flute-like notes but never see the bird and can't even tell what direction the notes are coming from.They are repeated exactly the same every time.

I live in N. California on a hillside next to a wooded creek about 20 minutes south of San Jose.  Can anyone give me a clue to the bird?  Thanks, Cynthia

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I have heard what you are describing from a Northern Mockingbird. It drove me crazy trying to find where the sound was coming from. By chance one day, a Northern Mockingbird landed on a phone line just above my head and then came the sound I had spent so much time trying to find. I can't tell you that this is the bird you are looking for, it's just a personal observation. Also, I have yet to find a Bird website that has this particular sound in their collections for Northern Mockingbirds.

 

I hope you find your bird! Big Smile

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Flute-like calls make me think thrushes.  Did you hear this song recently, or are you recalling from the summer.  Hermit thrush is the only one around at this time of year, but it's calls are not necessarily desending.

Go play at this site and see if you can find your song among the birds suggested above.

http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio.do?id=98814

Scott

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> three beautiful very clear loud descending flute-like notes

Makes me think of the shortened white-crowned sparrow song ("poor old Sam"... without the "Peabody"), or a golden-crowned sparrow.

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Thanks Cavan Wood   I hear it in the summer if I remember right, This year I am going to make notes on my calendar.  I'll look on the website. Much appreciated.  C

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cynthiatk:
For years now I have heard three beautiful very clear loud descending flute-like notes but never see the bird and can't even tell what direction the notes are coming from.They are repeated exactly the same every time.

I live in N. California on a hillside next to a wooded creek about 20 minutes south of San Jose.  Can anyone give me a clue to the bird?  Thanks, Cynthia

Did you post a link to an audio file that I didn't catch?  Based on your info. I'm thinking  a Western Meadowlark. Try listening to this one   http://www.lewis-clark.org/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=402

 

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Three clear descending notes in a minor key from a bird that is, at best, elusive is likely a golden-crowned sparrow. The song is loud enough to be heard at quite a distance, and the notes are unusually consistent. We have a large population of them in Alaska in the summer.

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If she was hearing the song in the summer, as she seems to recall, it's unlikely to be agolden-crowned sparrow or a white-throated sparrow. They do winter in California, but should belong gone before singing really picks up. Maybe if she heard it early in the spring? They do a little singing on their wintering grounds, but it's unlikely if it was heard all through the summer.

Flute-like is how many people describe the songs of most thrushes. It can also be hard to pinpoint where the bird is and even harder to actually see it. The problem here is the song description doesn't fit any of them. Their songs are typically descending in pitch and are not always consistent each time. Meadowlarks are also very flute-like, but the habitat of a wooded creek seems way off for where you're likely to find one.

Sorry i don't really have much of a proper suggestion for you. Identifying things from a memory can be very tricky. I've tried to ID birds from a song I didn't recognize, and even if I do it later in the same day, I often fail. If he comes around again this year, hunt that little sucker down!

 

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Thanks luv2bird but that isn't the call i hear sometimes. it is such a distinctive call - i can repeat it by whistling 3 long notes, the last two a little lower each time. there are no twitterings or other sounds accompanying, just the clear notes. if i had any musical training i could tell you what key they are in.  c

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thanks johnthemon. i have raised doves and these are nothing like the sounds i've ever heard them make. 

i am wondering if there is something like a very special mating call that birds don't use very often. (obviously i am a beginner birdsong i.d.)   c

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thanks littlest_bird.  yes, i could easily confuse practically every other bird song except maybe crow, but these notes are as distinctive as the spaceship sounded in 'close encounters of the third kind' -  unique and unforgettable.

or the da DA da da from 'twilight zone' - most everyone in middle age remembers that one. this bird call sounds so unusual in my usually twittering garden that it always makes me stop and listen. it's that beautiful.   (woo oo - now i've got everyone thinking, a bird from outer space?  ha!)

since i havn't got an i.d. from anyone, you can be sure that next time i hear it i will try my best to find out who it comes from. wish i could remember to carry a recorder in my pocket from spring through fall.   c

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hi again rogerhull.  i heard the golden crowned sparrow song at the cornell website and it is very much the same -except the middle note dips lower. do you know if there are slight regional differences in bird songs?

i have lots of golden crowns around here  -maybe mine have a california accent.

what a relief to have an answer to my mystery!  thanks very much,  cynthia

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cynthiatk:

hi again rogerhull.  i heard the golden crowned sparrow song at the cornell website and it is very much the same -except the middle note dips lower. do you know if there are slight regional differences in bird songs?

i have lots of golden crowns around here  -maybe mine have a california accent.

what a relief to have an answer to my mystery!  thanks
very
much,  cynthia

There are definitely regional, as well as individual variations in bird song. Golden-crowned sparrows often don't dip the middle note and just have three descending notes, as you've described. It sounds like you've found your bird! One further note though: if you have heard a golden crowned sparrow singing throughout the entire summer, it would be exceptional. There is no record of them breeding in California at all. They do however appear on their Californian wintering grounds earlier than many other migrants, and stay later as well because of the very short breeding season in Alaska. So if you hear it in April or in September, that would not be unusual, but if you hear it in June, get confirmation from strong birders and let authorities at Audubon or Cornell know, because that would be very notable.

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OK littlest_bird, will do.

Thanks for the info on regional accents.

The reason I always notice this bird at my feeders is because of the very bright yellow stripe on its head so I suppose it is getting ready to migrate to breed.  You can bet that from now on, when I hear it, or see it with that yellow stripe, I will make notes on my calendar.  Thanks again.  C

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cynthiatk:
Thanks luv2bird but that isn't the call i hear sometimes. it is such a distinctive call - i can repeat it by whistling 3 long notes, the last two a little lower each time. there are no twitterings or other sounds accompanying, just the clear notes. if i had any musical training i could tell you what key they are in.  c

Try browsing at naturesongs.com or Cornell.

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