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Posted (edited)

Can anyone help me identify this bird by it's song? I've got three sound clips of it singing put together in the file attached here to my post.


It starts singing at around 2 and 3 a.m., and stops singing before 10 a.m. I have heard it every night for the last week, and one of the nights, I heard an answer to the song in the form of 2 notes.


I am in urban southern Alberta, Canada, though my backyard is very creature-friendly and includes lots of fruit trees, shrubs, and long grass, so I have seen some pretty unique visitors over the past few years.


Some of the birds I have seen in the last few weeks specifically include house wrens, yellow warblers, Tennessee warblers, cedar waxwings, house finches, hermit thrushes, and the somewhat more normal variety of sparrows, chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, crows, American robins, and northern flickers. Using the Cornell Ornithology database, none of the songs of these species I have photographed seem to match this unusual (and very early morning!) song.

 

Any ideas? Would love this mystery to be solved.

Song.mp3

Edited by Hal.314

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It might help to add that it has been particularly rainy in my area in the last week (which has really seemed to bring out the warblers), and I live near/on a wetlands. Red-winged blackbirds, yellow-headed blackbirds, and Canadian geese are pretty common due to this, so perhaps this mystery singer is closely related to my environment. It is certainly my first time to hear this song, and I can't tell if it is a variation of a more common song of one of the birds I have listed above.

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4 minutes ago, Connor Cochrane said:

Sounds like some type of sparrow. 

I thought the same thing. I've checked song sparrows' songs, and they aren't a match as my mystery bird lacks the buzzing between notes, and I regularly hear white-throated sparrows around this time of year, and it's definitely not them. The other sparrows I am familiar with in my area are clay sparrows (again, buzzing), chipping sparrow (not as musical), and house sparrows (chirping).

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In later summer, I also hear LeConte's sparrows (sound like insects).


This new bird sort of has the same vocal range as a swamp sparrow -- but the notes are off. I am not experienced enough of a bird watcher yet to know how much a song can vary among individual birds.

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, Melierax said:

Can you post the audio without noise reduction? 

Certainly. I have it attached here with no amplification or noise reduction (sorry! it's really quiet as my phone recorder doesn't pick up sound very well). It's all three distinct song clips together in the same file again.

A wren is a possibility. I have house wrens here commonly over the summer, and have recently put up a bird box in the yard (as far as I can tell without disturbing it or approaching it, it is unoccupied). Perhaps this is a new wren other than a house wren?

Song_No_Edits.mp3

Edited by Hal.314

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29 minutes ago, Melierax said:

Thanks! That's a Lincoln's Sparrow.

I think you might be correct!! Not only by the sound of the bird, but I also have a (pretty terrible) photo of a bird I couldn't identify with the same black streaks on the upper breast. It was wet (raining) and I couldn't tell if there was very pale yellow feathers on it's stomach, and I couldn't see it's face. It matches the visual of a Lincoln's Sparrow very closely. I also saw a black-flecked bird outside one of the windows perched on a cherry tree, but it was too small too be a thrush and gone by the time I had a camera in hand.

Is it unusual for a bird to persist in the area for over a week? Is it possible it may be nesting in my yard (I have lots of long grass and generally everything it is listed to like is in my yard), or do they nest further north? And finally, why would it sing so much when it is still dark out (2 a.m.)?

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8 minutes ago, Hal.314 said:

I think you might be correct!! Not only by the sound of the bird, but I also have a (pretty terrible) photo of a bird I couldn't identify with the same black streaks on the upper breast. It was wet (raining) and I couldn't tell if there was very pale yellow feathers on it's stomach, and I couldn't see it's face. It matches the visual of a Lincoln's Sparrow very closely. I also saw a black-flecked bird outside one of the windows perched on a cherry tree, but it was too small too be a thrush and gone by the time I had a camera in hand.

Is it unusual for a bird to persist in the area for over a week? Is it possible it may be nesting in my yard (I have lots of long grass and generally everything it is listed to like is in my yard), or do they nest further north? And finally, why would it sing so much when it is still dark out (2 a.m.)?

You're in breeding range I think. I live in Idaho and they nest here! I normally don't hear of sparrows singing that early, but out of all the sparrows I think Lincoln's are one of the most vociferous. It could definitely be nesting nearby! I

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Melierax said:

You're in breeding range I think. I live in Idaho and they nest here! I normally don't hear of sparrows singing that early, but out of all the sparrows I think Lincoln's are one of the most vociferous. It could definitely be nesting nearby! I

That's very exciting! I will have to be careful in the yard and not disturb any of the longer grass just in case. 🙂

I'll keep my eyes peeled as the weeks pass, maybe I will catch a picture of babies.

Speaking of pictures -- I went through my photos, and the unknown is definitely not a Lincoln Sparrow. I found my best photo started a new thread for it.

Edited by Hal.314
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