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I only know the sound it makes is like a whirring/whining engine.


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Every time I hear this sound, I look to find what is making it but cannot spot the bird.  I know it is a bird, even though it sounds like a whirring or whining engine.  It makes a few other calls and then it makes the whirring/whining engine sound.  That seems to be the final call before it flies off.  It may do the call a second time, but then it is gone.  I hear it in the autumn and early spring.  I haven't heard it in about a month now.  I'm located in zone 6 (southern New England).  Can anyone help?  What other information can help identify this bird?

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7 minutes ago, Beeker said:

What other information can help identify this bird?

@Beeker, welcome to Whatbird!  Would you describe the local environment?  Wooded, marshy, beachfront, open fields, urban?  That will help a lot.

8 minutes ago, Beeker said:

I'm located in zone 6 (southern New England). 

I think this is the first time someone here has referenced their location by USDA agricultural zone number!

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Hi Charlie!

Thank you for the welcome! 

Haha!  Yes, I find the agricultural zones very useful in odd ways.

I'm in a suburban area on a main road.  We have a very varied environment here.  There is a main intersection with a convenience store, multiple schools within walking distance, lots of trees and streams.  We have deer, owls, foxes, skunks, and many various rodents.  A neighbor used to put birdseed out, but stopped when she had to repeatedly clear mouse nests from her car. 

Other birds we have here are year round finches, blue jays and cardinals.  The robins arrived about two months ago, mockingbirds are here now, grackles, starlings, orioles, killdeer... 

I thought it may be a mockingbird mimicking an engine, but it only makes the sound once.  Mockingbirds usually repeat the sound a few times in their calls, right?

 

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Posted (edited)

Maybe a Wilson's Snipe?  Try the "winnowing" sound here.  (The bird makes that sound with its tail feathers.)

Or the wing sound of a Common Nighthawk?  Though I'm not sure the seasonal pattern is right.

(And I think we have had a USDA hardiness zone here once or twice before.)

Edited by Jerry Friedman
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you, Jerry.  I did hear the winnowing sound yesterday, but it wasn't the same sound.  Considering that this bird is found in marshy areas, I'm surprised to find out that it is that bird I heard yesterday, as we are inland from the shore.  Are there other birds that make that winnowing sound?

That wing sound of the Nighthawk is close, but the sound I heard increases in pitch instead of lowering and the sound I heard lasts much longer, like a truck accelerating.

I've been learning a lot of calls from the nearby birds over the past two years, since I began working from home.  When I received word that we would be returning to the office, it was then I realized how much I would miss hearing the birds.  I found an 8 hour track on youtube of bird sounds/nature sounds to play over the computer while I'm at the office.  :classic_smile:

Here goes that chipmunk again...  Let's see how long I can tolerate its incessant chirping before I walk over to the window and give it a yell.  Last time I did that it stopped for a few minutes and then started chirping in the other direction so it wasn't as loud and annoying.  :classic_happy:  Funny animals.

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I heard the bird again!

It was this past Thursday!  It has been a while since I heard it so I began to wonder if it was a bird that only passed through in our cooler weather or spent winters here and then heads north, but I was so happy to hear it again raising the odds that I might finally get an identification.

It did it twice.  I'm wondering if it is one of the black bird species since that is the only bird I noticed around me other than finches and sparrows.  There were some short tic-like calls and then the whirring sound.  

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We are definitely getting closer.

I heard it again a few times around 6 am but I couldn't find my recorder.  I'll try to record it next time I hear it.  I seem to hear it in the mornings and evenings.

I'm also listening to Grackles and Starlings online because they are common around here, especially in the mornings.  So far, I still cannot find the call.

The closest description I can give is a combination between the rising sound of the Great-tailed Grackle call and the flight call of the Eastern Towhee.  So, if you can think of the Towhee sound with the rising call of the Grackle, that is almost like what I'm hearing.  Close.

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Thank you for the link.

There are A LOT of Finches and Sparrows around here.  I do recognize many of those songs and calls, but I'll look through the list and listen to the songs.

So far, I've also checked calls and songs of Orioles, Robins, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Black Birds, Starlings, Grackles, Cowbirds and Thrushes.

I haven't found it yet.  Thrushes are a possibility, but I didn't hear the call.  I'm now working my way through every Warbler in our area...  Ugh.  If I don't find it there, I'll move on to the many Finches and Sparrows. but I don't think it is either.  That is why I'm saving them for last.  I'll keep my recorder handy if I hear it tomorrow.  Then, hopefully, somebody can cut my list for me and tell me what it is...  and don't tell me it's a truck's engine!

I don't know if this helps, but in regards to one of the responses above, the closest saltwater is about a half-hour away on the highway.  We have a lot of woods and freshwater streams, ponds and small lakes around.

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Wow.  They do make many unusual sounds, but I did not hear the sound I'm looking for.

Thank you for the tip, though.  I'll look through the different species of grouse and see if I can pinpoint it.

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Really similar is the last rising note of the song of the Black-throated Blue Warbler, New York, May 26, 2020, the second song file, but it is only that one last note and it rises and lasts about 4 or 5 seconds. 

Close.

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40 minutes ago, Beeker said:

Really similar is the last rising note of the song of the Black-throated Blue Warbler, New York, May 26, 2020, the second song file, but it is only that one last note and it rises and lasts about 4 or 5 seconds. 

Close.

Try Northern Parula!

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Thank you, Avery.  That or the Prairie Warbler, but their pitch is higher.  The sound I'm hearing is a lower pitch.  

To me, these two birds sound like a reeeee sound and the sound I'm trying to identify is a whirr sound.

Does that help?

I've spent over 3 hours just now listening to every Grouse, Warbler, Thrush and Finch.  I need to take a break.  I hope to have a recording for you tomorrow.  *Fingers crossed*

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Sorry, no recording. 

The sound happens around dawn and sunset.  I don't know if that helps.

I'll keep looking up birds in our area and listening to calls.

Any ideas or help would be appreciated.

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I've been listening to all of the wrens in our area.  Those sound like the right pitch. I think I'm getting closer.

I also heard a big Dodge Ram pickup truck make the noise today that I keep comparing the bird to.  It can also be compared to the noise the battery powered kiddie cars sound like, a lower pitch than most birds but wrens seem to have the right pitch.  Now, to find the bird (wren?) that makes that certain call.

I'll keep the recorder handy in case I hear the bird again.  Mornings are my best chances.

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4 minutes ago, Beeker said:

I've been listening to all of the wrens in our area.  Those sound like the right pitch. I think I'm getting closer.

I also heard a big Dodge Ram pickup truck make the noise today that I keep comparing the bird to.  It can also be compared to the noise the battery powered kiddie cars sound like, a lower pitch than most birds but wrens seem to have the right pitch.  Now, to find the bird (wren?) that makes that certain call.

I'll keep the recorder handy in case I hear the bird again.  Mornings are my best chances.

I admire your tenacity!

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Thank you, Charlie.  I hope it is still only tenacity and not yet obsession!  :classic_wink:

I wish I can get a recording so you can hear it.  It is so odd.  I never noticed hearing it before last autumn.

I've learned a lot of calls so far.  Last night, I heard a Black-billed Cuckoo and an Eastern Screech Owl.  I've heard those calls before and never knew what they were.  Now I know.

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To me, the Cuckoo kind of sounds like a frog.  That is what I was mistaking it for before I started this "project."

As for the call I'm trying to identify, I've heard it during the winter as well.  It can't be a frog.

I'm also going to check sounds of other wildlife.

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