Birdsong

I know many people aren’t fond of mockingbirds. Their voices are clear and pure, and they tend to wake up hella early, waking oneself in the process.

But for me, there are few pleasures more treasured than waking up on a balmy Spring day to the sound of birdsong. Frequently one can hear that the bird is a juvenile, by the sound of its voice. A young bird just starting out, building its collection of interesting tunes and ambient sounds.

I’m in Northern California. In the last year or two, I have heard cardinals and even woodpeckers, relative newcomers here I believe. (I mean I’ve heard woodpeckers, uh, pecking. I don’t believe they sing?)

Crows have this thing they do – I think it’s cleaning or burnishing their beak. It’s not something I’ve seen, but rather a peculiar sound they make. For some reason it reminds me of the rabbit character on Sesame Street who used to flex his front teeth, which made a sound exactly like a toddler chewing the rubber nipple of his bottle. That used to crack me up. Little mom joke they threw in.

Anyway, can’t get much more pointless than this thread; but thank you, O Nature, for birds.

We call mockingbirds the Ella Fitzgeralds of the bird world. They can really get rockin’ if you listen to them. :slight_smile:

Sitting outside as I read this and it has made me more aware of e birds around me right now. There’s a dove off to the left, a mockingbird to the right, at least 2 crows and at least 3 other species that I can’t identify by call.

Shoot as many jays as you like, but remember that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. They don’t ever do anything but make beautiful music for people to hear.

I love mockingbirds. They are funny to watch when they go along the ground doing that spreading out their wings thing. And Harper Lee evidently wasn’t an expert on them with her line in To Kill A Mockingbird about them never hurting anything, because they are fairly mean. They’ll dive bomb cats, dogs and children who stray into their territory when they have a nest. My mother had one make a nest in the vines of her pergola last year, and she didn’t want to bother it because there were eggs, but we couldn’t sit on her patio for the whole season until the babies left the nest. This year she is going to watch for any signs of nest building and pull it down before it gets going good.

Right now there is alot of development going on around me, and all the tree cutting is distressing because it mean less natural homes for the birds (and other animals, of course).

The birdsong I like the most is when you get the rare treat of the whippoorwill. That one gives me chills and shudders of joy!

There’s no cardinals in California. Maybe you’re hearing a California towhee?

And there’s about six common woodpecker species, as well as a handful of uncommon, in the Bay area. They are generally quite vocal birds, but the sounds they make are usually characterised as calls rather than songs. I frequently hear and see Nuttall’s woodpeckers from my patio.

Or maybe you’re not hearing anything but mockingbirds. They have that name for a reason, after all.

The mockingbirds on my street like to imitate car alarms.

That’s right, mockingbirds will run through an entire repertoire of other bird’s songs. Showoffs!

We have woodpeckers that like to get on top of the street lamps and jack hammer away. The loud metallic sound signals to the ladies that he’s a badass, I guess.

The best spring morning song around these parts is from the ubiquitous blackbird. The humblest of birds really, slightly dowdy, with only their yellow beak as accoutrement. But they sing so beautifully outside my bedroom window.

Here’s an hour or so of recordings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmpEWlmgRxQ I love that this has been watched over a million times…

Ha ha, that’s awesome! I would really like to hear that!

araminty: No, definitely a cardinal call. However, I listened to the towhee on the page that you linked – I think that may be the bird that has famously driven me bats–t crazy elsewhere in this board’s annals. 4:30am: “Chih! Chih!” Argh.

No, I know we don’t have cardinals in California. I haven’t yet heard anyone say why we couldn’t have them here though; although I suppose there are strong reasons supporting that. But the cardinal’s call is quite distinctive, hard to mistake for anything else. And I don’t hear it as part of a song, so probably not a mockingbird.

Maybe birds get lost occasionally? What if one is born without the magnetite in its brain? Or, if mating pairs kept nesting at the edge of their traditional region, and each generation pushed a bit farther, couldn’t at least a few outliers wind up pretty far afield?

I mean, yes, vagrant birds are certainly a thing. And very occasionally, reports of lost cardinals have shown up around LA and Las Vegas. But nothing further north than that. Nowadays, birders report their observations to ebird.com, and you can bet that if there were even one unconfirmed sighting of a northern cardinal, all your local bird nerds would be out in force to find it.

IMHO, you’re hearing a different bird, we just haven’t discovered which yet.

We have a bird around here that has a one-note song. It is about a C[sub]4[/sub] or so, about a second long, with no vibrato or tremolo, typically repeated every 5 to 10 seconds. I hope he gets laid soon, because that is a weak-ass excuse for a birdsong.

Where I used to live, there were some windbreak-type trees across the way that would fill with birds on a summer evening, and just as the sun was at the horizon, there would be a frenzy of singing that would end abruptly as soon as it was gone from sight.

Any day I get to hear the dawn chorus is a good day.

The woodpeckers I’m most familiar with around here are Acorn Woodpeckers. A ranger at Henry Coe aptly described them as clowns…their coloration is clown-like, they fly in a swooping, comical way and they go waka-waka-waka all day long.

I think I heard a woodpecker pecking today, on a wooden utility pole, for the first time I can remember (I live in San Francisco). It was a tattoo of rapid pecks for maybe one or two seconds, followed by shorter pause, and then repeated several times until I got bored and went in. We don’t get much birdsong around here because there aren’t many trees on my block, sad to say. I’m hoping one day that my little 3-year-old peppermint willow will attract some bird to next.

Usually easy to find, too, if you see a granary tree! They drill holes in rotten wood, then stuff them with acorns (hence the name). The acorns rot, and the birds eat the grubs and worms. Yummy.

They’re also the only communal woodpeckers, everybody helping to raise clutches of chicks.

arminty: Oh, of course! I should have realized there’d be a birding resource online like that. But tell me something, I’ve seen cardinals referred to as “Northern Cardinals.” --Which north is the term referring to?

Oh, and while you’re being nice enough to answer bird questions, let me ask you something else – do you know which bird it is that makes a sound like the muppet Gonzo going “EEEEEEEEEEE!” in a high-pitched voice?

blondebear: Birds going waka-waka-waka? Are they trying to attract Kliban kitties? :smiley:

Oh yes, BTW, around here, when it’s about to rain, there’s a certain kind of bird that will all take shelter in a palm tree or somesuch, and then all chatter at once. I love that!

Cardinal records in CA: Mostly introductions it seems, probably pretty rarely vagrants.

Which makers sense - cardinals are non-migratory and at least one source claims most never travel more than a mile from where they’re hatched. On the other hand if introduced they can be pretty good colonists under the right circumstances, as any birder visiting Hawai’i soon discovers :).

Northern hemisphere, I think. Lots of common North American birds have that appellation, even the mockingbirds you first mentioned are, formally, northern mockingbirds. In bird-bander slang, NOMOs. To distinguish them from related species with a more southerly range.

Can you narrow this down for me? What kind of habitat have you heard it in? IIRC, Gonzo has kind of a husky voice, is that the tone you’re alluding to?

Always happy to answer bird questions!