North American Bird Sounds

Gaviiforms thru Anseriforms

Remember, all sound clips, text and photos are copyrighted to Doug Von Gausig and Non-commercial use is usually granted without charge, but must be in writing from the author. Commercial use is expressly forbidden without prior written consent.
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Gaviiformes (Loons) | Podicipediformes (Grebes) | Procellariiformes (Albatrosses, etc.)
Pelicaniformes (Pelicans, Cormorants) | Ciconiiformes (Waders and Vultures)
Anseriformes (Ducks and Geese)

Gaviiformes - Loons

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Podicipediformes - Grebes

I got this recording of a Pied Billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) serendipitously one evening at Peck's Lake, in Clarkdale, Arizona. I was recording night insects and this guy wanted to be heard! (86K)

In the early Spring you can often hear pairs of Pied-Billed Grebes "duetting" together. Duetting is when two birds of the same species (usually a male and a female) sing together, often interleaving their parts of the song together seamlessly, as in this example. I have posted a spectrogram (94K) of a 0.5 second segment of this duet to show how well these two match up their calls. I've marked the two birds #1 & #2. Remember to press the "back" button on your browser after viewing the graphic. These were recorded March 22, 1998 in the morning at Peck's lake. (222K)

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Procellariiformes - Albatrosses, Petrels, etc.

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Pelicaniformes - Pelicans, Cormorants & Frigates

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Ciconiiformes - Waders and Vultures

Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White-faced Ibis
Turkey Vulture
The Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is one of my favorite inhabitants of Tavasci Marsh. The bird is secretive and subtle in every way, spending its day among the cattails and reeds, and seldom "surfacing". Even this chuckling breeding "song" is subtle and quiet, and it's sung only during the Spring breeding season. The birds are quite beautiful, in a subtle sort of way! This one was recorded March 21, 1998 near "Becky's Slough". (68K)

Here are some examples of the Least Bittern's call, which is often heard but not seen. It is easily confused with the calls of other marsh birds, especially various rails. This call is heard outside the Least Bittern breeding season, and is often part of a "synchophony" (see Gruiformes, below). Please listen for this sound in your marshes, it's a very poorly-documented call. (154K)

A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), one of my favorite birds, complains that I've gotten too close to his perch in a Hackberry tree at the edge of Peck's Lake. This sample was taken at 8 pm. It's hard to look at a "GBH" and not believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs! (49K)

Great Egrets (Ardea alba) seldom make any sound at all, but I caught this one yelling at a pair of White-tailed Kites that were hassling him for sitting too near their nesting site in the Elkhorn Slough wildlife area. (49K)

This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) and I surprised each other early one September morn. I was recording a nervous Moorhen and walked right under the Heron before either of us noticed. This is the sound he made as he took flight from his Willow perch and flew away. (116K)

A family of Black-Crowned Night Herons (Nicticorax nicticorax) lives in Tavasci Marsh, and they roost each evening in the same dead trees as a family of Great (American) Egrets(Ardea alba) The first several times I recorded these guys, I thought I was recording the Egrets! It was generally late evening, with failing light, and the Egrets stood out clearly, whereas the Herons were difficult to see. The two species also had a habit of flying together, so I'd have my mic pointed at the flying Egret, not seeing the darker, smaller Heron flying with it. It's a good lesson in sight verification - things are not always what they seem! (118K)

White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) migrate through Peck's Lake and Tavasci Marsh. This recording was made when 26 visited the marsh and chatted while they fed. They're beautiful birds, in an ungainly sort of way, and they talk very quietly. (120k)

A recording of a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is about as rare a recording as you'll find! New world vultures lack a syrinx, or "voice box", so they have a hard time making any sounds at all. They are known to produce gutteral grunts and rattles from time to time when disturbed, though. As this Turkey Vulture flew past my window it was beset by a Cassin's Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans) and a Western Kingbird (T. verticalis), both of which hassle any large raptor-ish bird out of general principal. I started the recording to capture the vocalizations of the two Kingbirds when the Vulture uttered the two syllables you hear on this recording. It's not a great recording, but it exists! (1 sec., 20K) When Turkey Vultures are in a romantic mood, they play by climbing above their intended mate and then diving fast, like a falcon stooping, then pulling out at the last seconmd - during that pullout, their wings make a whooshing sound that is similar to a Common Nighthawk's "boom". Here is a recording of that seldom-heard sound. (3 sec., 70K)

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Anseriformes - Ducks & Geese

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
A gaggle of 16 Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) flies overhead at Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands, seemingly inches from my head! I love this sound, because to me in Arizona, it means cooler weather approaches! (209K)(MP3 47K 19 sec)

The most beautiful bird in the US (to my eye) is the Wood Duck (Aix sponsa). This recording is of two different hens at Peck's Lake in October, 1997. (153K)

The male Wood Duck call is a strange high squeak, a bit other-worldly! (74K)

Gadwalls (Anas strepera) talk to each other as the males display by jerking their heads back and raising their chests out of the water while whistling, quacking and squeaking in this sample. Their squeaks sound like a rusty gate to me. These were recorded 10/10/97 at Peck's Lake. (69K)

An American Wigeon (Anas americana) calls it's whistling call at Tavasci Marsh. (15K)

No bird sound page is complete without the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). This pair of females (the females do all the quacking) was recorded at Peck's Lake. In this sample you'll hear them take off and then quack as they circle the lake. Lots of fun! (124K)

OK, the male Mallard deserves some "air time" too - here he is while dabbling around in Tavasci Marsh, just minding his own business. His quacks are rather more quiet and reserved than his lady's! (69K)

A pair of Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera) (the Latin name refers to the large blue patch on the top front of their wing) dabble in the pond at Tavasci Marsh, Spring 1998. This is the female, who, like most ducks, talks the most and the loudest! The sharp-eared listener will also hear Red-winged Blackbirds, a Song Sparrow and a Least Bittern in this sample. (145K) In this recording breeding drakes challenge each other by sitting face-to-face and bobbing their heads up and down while making this rattling sound - interesting to watch and hear! (68K)

Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) squeak and quack at Peck's Lake in March, 1998. I think these are some of the most "elegant" ducks, with that snow white stripe extending gracefully up onto their chocolate-brown neck. The peeping sound is what I hear most frequently, but they do quack, as at the end of this sample. (41K)

Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) are beautiful Winter homesteaders at Tavasci Marsh. In this sample we hear the males' flight sound and peeping song as they rocket off the surface of the water. (46K)

Ring-necked Ducks spend the Winter in Peck's Lake, sometimes in the hundreds. Their normal call is a croaky, "fuzzy" quack. (WAV, 42K) In the early spring, when they're all a bit nervous about getting ready to leave, they chatter like this bunch did on 2/23/03 at Tavasci Marsh. Note the strange siren-like whines that some are making quietly. (MP3, 20 sec., 98K)

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