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Unknown Nocturnal Bird Call in Washington State (WAV link)

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#1 Jexbird



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Posted 03 June 2010 - 09:34 PM

What bird makes this call? I don't have a photo because I've never seen it but I do have an audio recording of it's strange call.

I've searched bird call recordings for weeks and haven't found anything like this. I can hear the bird most every evening and during the night in May and June 2010. First noticed the call after the boy scouts camped in our field and one of the leaders stayed awake all night hearing this strange sound seemingly comming from all around them. It is hard to determine where the sound is coming from because it has a Doppler effect. I'd describe it as a fast whoo-whoo-whoo sound that changes in pitch. Download and play the attached two wav files and see if you recognize it. The closest bird call is the common loon but it isn't a loon. Sorry for the frogs in the background.

 I live in Washington State near a creek and tall grass. There are plenty of red-winged black birds, killdeer, robins, Canadian geese, cliff and barn swallows here too.


#2 PoorMatty



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Posted 03 June 2010 - 09:55 PM

Sounds a little like a Western Screech-owl.

#3 Jexbird



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Posted 04 June 2010 - 08:20 AM

Thanks for your response. Yes, sounds similar to a western screech owl but it doesn't have the separate and distinct hoots at the begining of the call. I realize the recordings are faint but there are no initial tweets or noises before the woo-woo-woo rises and lowers in frequency.



Doug Von Gausig indicated that it also sounded like the display flight of a common snipe. The sound is made by the tail faithers as it dives in flight during matting. I listened to several common snipe winnowing flight song and winnowing display sounds. They sound similar and would explain why the sound seems to move and make it hard to locate where the bird is. However these sound similar to a rubber band vibrating rather than a dobler tube being blown.


#4 Jexbird



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Posted 05 June 2010 - 06:47 PM

Mystery solved by Yahoo Questions. An respondent indicated it's a Wilson's Snipe. The sound is identical. I know understand why people do snipe hunts, you can hear the sound all around you but can't see the bird easily. The area is marshy with all the rain we've had lately. Thanks.


also live in WA, and I'm really good at these ID questions so give me a few and I'll have your bird.

Ok, it took a few minutes but I tracked down your bird. You are hearing the winnowing sound of a Wilson's snipe. the sound comes from 2 stiff tail feathers while flying. snipe are common in Washington and the fact that you are hearing the sound near wetlands even more points to the snipe.


here is some info on them written by Dennis Paulson, one of the foremost bird experts in the northwest.
and here is the recorded sound from the same site

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