North American Bird Sounds

Fringillidae through Passeridae

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PASSERIDAE (House Sparrow)
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Cassin's Finch
House Finch
Red Crossbill
Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
Cassin's Finches (24 sec., 114K, MP3) (Carpodacus cassinii) are infrequent winter visitors to my home feeders, so I never get to hear their song around my home. This recording was made Feb. 11th, 2008 outside my ofice, and contains only their characteristic chirps, or calls. Since their calls are significantly different from the calls of House Finches, they are a reliable way to distinguish these two very similar species.

This House Finch male (Photo is a female) (Carpodacus mexicanus) sings his heart out while displaying. These guys have lots of songs of this complexity - some last 30-45 seconds. I'm convinced that there is a significant amount of information in these songs. I'll post several examples - see what you think. (88K)

Here's a second example of the House Finch male's display song. In this one you'll hear a high-pitched (ca. 9000Hz) trill separating each "phrase" of his song. (261K - you've got to really want to hear this one to download it!) To see a screen shot of a Cool Edit spectral analysis of this one click here (88K gif).

This third example of a House Finch is extraordinary. This is a "compressed" (I took out a lot of silence) version of a 90 second series from one male. The file is quite large, but it needs to be for you to get what's going on here. This guy is cookin'. He's the Frank Sinatra of House Finches! A spectrogram helps reveal several "words" which are repeated at times in the entire passage, and they're repeated exactly. Nothing left to chance here! If you ever wondered if a bird could talk, you won't wonder after this. E-mail me if you'd like to discuss bird talk or this particular file in more detail. (318K)

A Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) pipes his strident call over a huge Western Red cedar in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum, in September, 1997. There was a small flock feeding in the tree, and one called continuously. Thanks to Jack Holloway and Alvaro Jaramillo for helping me to ID this one. (61K) Here are two examples recorded near Flagstaff, Arizona: Flight Calls (49K) and A pair "whispering" to each other (81K).

Pine Siskins (Carduelis pinus) sing a flight-display song in the Spring when they're "on the make". This one flies up, sings his flight song, then settles down to some serious buzzing to show what good mating material he'll be! Recorded 5/9/98 at Grand Canyon, Arizona. (253K)

Here's a sample of a common Pine Siskin call that's described as "A grating call with rising inflection." (5 sec., 208K wav) In the next sample, a small flock of Pine Siskins flits around my parents' place in Hermosa, Colorado (10/97). They sound a lot like Goldfinches (to which they're closely related) when heard at a distance, but their calls are more "nasal" or "wheezy". (164K)

I finally hung up a thistle feeder, just to see what it might attract, and within two days I have a family of Lesser (Green-Backed) Goldfinches (Carduelis psaltria hesperophilus) feeding! I hadn't expected them at all, not in July around here, but here they are! In this sample an adolescent peeps constantly while the Mom hangs out in the branches above, keeping a watchful eye. Midway through this recording the Mom decides it's time to leave, and tells the youngster so. The Mom sings the lower-pitched notes. (82K)

Here is a "sampler" of the vocalizations of a mature male Lesser Goldfinch. These were composited from a 3-minute recording at my thistle feeder in mid August. The first and last notes were used as "separaters" between the other notes he sang. Anyone who would like the full version of this sample may contact me. (99K)

This juvenile Lesser Goldfinch was being fed by a male adult in mid October near Peck's lake - they must have hatched a really late nest! He was hopping around, flapping his wings, mouth agape, and the father was responding right on cue. (79K) Here is a second juvenile begging call. (150K, 4.2 sec.)

Lesser Goldfinches are wonderful mimics! This recording was made in my back yard in July, 1997, but I didn't hear the mimicry at the time. While listening to the disc in the car months later I heard the clear mimicry of several species! This confirmed a similar recording I made in Sept, 1997. Both recordings were made of a "chorus" of Lesser Goldfinches, and in both the mimicry is clear and unmistakable. Listen for the following species at the noted times into the sample: Rock Wren @ 2.2 seconds, American Kestrel @ 3.4, Spotted Towhee mew @ 6.5, Northern Flicker @ 7.5, Song Sparrow chirps @ 8.2, Canyon Towhee @ 14.0, Cardinal @14.8, and Rock Wren again @18.8. This is a necessarily large file at 302K, but well worth the wait! Please contact me to discuss mimicry in other species or to get "raw" samples of these birds - I know this phenomenon is more common than we think. (MP3, 19.2 sec, 301K)

A flock of American Goldfinches have landed in a mulberry tree near Peck's Lake on a beautiful spring day and they are singing their hearts out! (MP3, 28 sec., 139K)

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PASSERIDAE: House Sparrow

A male House (English) Sparrow (Passer domesticus) chirps above the feeder. This guy and his buds wake me at 5 o'clock every morning with this repetitive chirping. Download it, and loop play it for 30 minutes in Cool Edit and you'll have my early morning life! Did you know that the House Sparrow is not a true sparrow, but a Weaver Finch, originally from Africa? They are also not native to the US, the first pairs were introduced here in 1850. (92K)

A second recording of the House Sparrow - this one's more of a "song". (114K) When a pair is really heated up in love, you'll hear the male calling out in ecstacy! (8 sec, 128K) (MP3, 18 sec, 53K) In this sample a pair is upset at me when I get a liitle too close to the nest they've built on my porch - the female is the chatterer and the male calls the faster rattle. (112K)

When a gang of House Sparrows get together in a small bush they all need to talk at once. This is a sound familiar to almost the whole world. What this group chatter is all about is up for grabs, but it may just serve to solidify the flock. Any other ideas out there? (97K)

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