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What bird is making this call? Sumner County, TN - 15th April 2021


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Yesterday, my wife and I spent the evening looking out over the local lake and trying to see if anything was flying by. During our time there, we heard a bird call which has stumped us both.

The call seems to be a relatively flat note made repeatedly, with the loudest part on the spectrogram being just above the 3kHz mark.

Here is the first clip, with the bird calling throughout in the background. It seems to be clearest in the first couple of seconds of the recording, and again at around 17s, at which time the speed of the calls increase briefly. A second clip was recorded a couple of minutes later, but the calls ended a lot sooner on this one.

This was recorded in a park at the edge of a peninsula on a lake. There's a small island just off this main bit of land which is where the sound seemed to be coming from, but it was hard to tell exactly - it could just as easily have been flying around over the water nearby. The weather was cool and clear, and it was approaching sunset.

Below are the spectrograms for the parts I mentioned above.

The calls right at the start of the first clip:

Spectrogram_SandersFerryMystery-20210415_1.thumb.png.1d3eb0bbf7fc7b5f15a8ecfee23de0ba.png

 

Here's the part at 17s where the calls speed up:

Spectrogram_SandersFerryMystery-20210415_2.png.70e9b66ece1740785f33514f87f8575c.png

 

Here's the entirety of the second clip:

Spectrogram_SandersFerryMystery-20210415_3.png.d5b2d6f466617ac0f6433bb5e406bbe1.png

 

Hopefully this is solvable - it's got us completely stumped. Let me know if any more information is needed. Thanks in advance! :)

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I'm pretty bad at shorebird calls but I believe that the thin, clear notes are Spotted Sandpiper, and I think the rattle in the first recording is a Pectoral Sandpiper.

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Hmm. I don't hear Pec Sand as rattling. It's more like a burry trill. To me, 'rattling' is more akin to a common call of BEKI in which individual notes are readily discerned.

I hear RWBL in there, but the call at the very beginning of the recording sounds more like a yellowlegs than SPSA. Right after that call, there's a MAWR-like call. The call at the end is much fainter for me and is overridden by the wave action enough to make it difficult for me to discern much in the way of specifics, other than a rapid, mellow rapidly repeated note. Are these the calls on which you're requesting help?

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9 minutes ago, Tony Leukering said:

Hmm. I don't hear Pec Sand as rattling. It's more like a burry trill. To me, 'rattling' is more akin to a common call of BEKI in which individual notes are readily discerned.

I hear RWBL in there, but the call at the very beginning of the recording sounds more like a yellowlegs than SPSA. Right after that call, there's a MAWR-like call. The call at the end is much fainter for me and is overridden by the wave action enough to make it difficult for me to discern much in the way of specifics, other than a rapid, mellow rapidly repeated note. Are these the calls on which you're requesting help?

The flat, clear call at the very beginning was what I was requesting help for, but the trill near the start of the first clip has got me curious now too. I'd previously written that off as a Starling, but if it's not that, then I'm not too sure what it could be.

I've marked in red the first mystery call that I'm hoping to solve, and the trill is marked in yellow. I believe the call in the second spectrogram is the same bird as the first spectrogram, just with a sped up call.

Spectrogram_SandersFerryMystery-20210415_1b.thumb.png.5e9633a26485ab1779e4414ab08e6774.png

Spectrogram_SandersFerryMystery-20210415_2b.png.07a0c08c6d1fc13ca6cd80bc75440988.png

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1 hour ago, Tony Leukering said:

Hmm. I don't hear Pec Sand as rattling. It's more like a burry trill. To me, 'rattling' is more akin to a common call of BEKI in which individual notes are readily discerned.

I hear RWBL in there, but the call at the very beginning of the recording sounds more like a yellowlegs than SPSA. Right after that call, there's a MAWR-like call. The call at the end is much fainter for me and is overridden by the wave action enough to make it difficult for me to discern much in the way of specifics, other than a rapid, mellow rapidly repeated note. Are these the calls on which you're requesting help?

Hmm, I initially dismissed Lesser Yellowlegs because it's quite mellow but listening to more audio I suppose they can have somewhat similar calls. How exactly can Spotted Sand be ruled out though? Lesser Yellowlegs often (but not always) has a quite tall spectrogram shape, where Spotted Sandpiper is more simple, like OP's bird.

As for the trill or rattle, interestingly it does sound superficially very similar to Evening Grosbeak, and the spectrogram shape matches it quite well. I still suspect Pectoral is probably the more likely choice, though I know that EVGR are in the area given this past year's irruption. Just something to think about.

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23 hours ago, Hasan said:

Hmm, I initially dismissed Lesser Yellowlegs because it's quite mellow but listening to more audio I suppose they can have somewhat similar calls. How exactly can Spotted Sand be ruled out though? Lesser Yellowlegs often (but not always) has a quite tall spectrogram shape, where Spotted Sandpiper is more simple, like OP's bird.

As for the trill or rattle, interestingly it does sound superficially very similar to Evening Grosbeak, and the spectrogram shape matches it quite well. I still suspect Pectoral is probably the more likely choice, though I know that EVGR are in the area given this past year's irruption. Just something to think about.

I would agree that the trill does sound like an Evening Grosbeak too, and they are still being reported in the state, albeit in the east rather than around here. That said, aren't they supposed to be more vocal? This was the only instance of that call I heard - could that behaviour count for or against Evening Grosbeaks, or even Pectoral Sandpiper?

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