Friday, June 22, 2012

Name That Tune

This recording of a bird song was taken in Southborough, MA on June 8, 2012:
The habitat was a mosaic of forest and field (hayfield and pasture)
dotted with clumps of shrubs. The song starts at 2 seconds and repeats
every 10-15 seconds. I never saw the bird, and don't know of any bird
found in this area which sounds exactly like it. I am wondering if it
is an unusual variation of the common yellowthroat, the typical rhythm
of which is often described as witchity-witchity-witchity. Other ideas?


  1. michael from rehobothJune 27, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    It could be a Carolina wren. I've discovered that they make a similar sound to the yellowthroat, who are more likely to be on a water's edge. With such a mild winter, there should be more Carolina's around. During harsh winters, die off of Carolina's are more common.

  2. Common yellowthroat for sure. The Carolina wren song that sounds similar is much more musical sounding (sounds are hard to describe, but that's how I'd describe it... more rich and melodious, almost arpeggiating a major chord).

  3. Thanks for your input. Two other people emailed and also thought common yellowthroat was most likely. But I do appreciate the carolina wren suggestion because that one hadn't occurred to me, and it inspired me to listen to many recordings of both species. And after doing so, I see what you mean, Charley, that even though the rhythm of both species can vary quite a lot, the quality (for lack of a better word) of the song in my recording sounds much more like that of the common yellowthroat than carolina wren. Plus it seems like the yellowthroat usually takes long breaks between phrases, like in my recording, while the wren repeats more frequently.

    For anyone interested, here is a website with recordings of many variations of each species (scroll down to the table, and click on the tape player icons in the column at the far left):

    Carolina wren:

    Common yellowthroat:
    (Interestingly, while the song of the yellowthroat is very variable in these recordings, it is always much more like the typical witchity witchity witchity song, than my recording. I wonder if this guy was ever able to get the girl, with his odd song. Can she recognize a weird rhythm, if the quality is right?)