Boidnoise

Various nature recordings by Bernhard Kroeger

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  • Millions of ducks, geese, swans, and cranes migrate south to spend the winter in the Central Valley of California.  On the morning of January 3, 2011 I drove to the Sacramento-San Juaquin River Delta to record at dawn.  The eastern sky was barely showing light through a mostly cloudy sky after two days of rain.  The area consists of harvested corn (maize) fields that are mostly flooded at this time of year.  I  recorded for an hour and fifteen minutes starting  at 0620 and had to stop when a large irrigation pump was started and was driven out by the noise.

    What follows are three segments, in order,  lifted from this recording.

    The high pitched, distant calls of Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons), a pair of Great-Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) calls back and forth in the foreground, the male much lower in pitch than the female.  A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) and Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) join in on the right, and towards the end the high “Woo-Woohoo ” call of Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) can be heard.

    As always, listening with headphones is best.

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    About half an hour later Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) started heading towards their foraging areas for the day and took flight.  Their loud, gurgling calls carry well.  Often while flying high over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in this area, the cranes can be heard clearly but not seen.  They left the area anywhere from a single bird to groups of 30 to 40.

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    About 10 minutes later thousands of Anser albifrons appeared in great V’s and W’s and echelons and noisily flew South and Southwest towards Mt. Diablo to get to their foraging areas for the day.

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    Equipment: home-made Jecklin disc, pair of Sennheiser MKH-80 mics, SD722  recorder

    post production reduced 300Hz and below

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  • About 10 miles southwest of Hana, Hawaii is Kipahulu and Whispering Winds Bamboo

    Whispering Winds Bamboo

    http://www.whisperingwindsbamboo.com/

    On a recent vacation to Maui I had hoped to make an ambient recording of the wind moving through a bamboo forest.  On the early afternoon of November 21, 2010 I received permission from Rich, one of the owners of this co-op to record on their property.  My wife found an area that had open clumps of black bamboo

    Open Clusters of Black Bamboo at Whispering Winds Bamboo Kipahulu, Maui

    that was creaking and clacking in strengthening gusts.  I set up my home made Jecklin disc http://www.studiy.tv/?p=22

    Jecklin Disc with pair of MHK 20's and home made windjammers

    with a pair of MHK 20′s and recorded for 57 minutes when the wind died.

    Here is a 7.5 minute snippet.

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    44.1Hz 16 bit

    Sennheiser MHK-20′s

    Sound Devices 722

    I reduced some of the rumble (100Hz), but otherwise left things alone.   At 59 sec a bird can be heard which I could not see nor identify by voice.  If you can,  please let me know.

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  • Male Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) Photo © Walt Carnahan

    The male western tanager is a strikingly handsome western bird.   Despite its bright red, yellow, and black coloration it is surprisingly hard to see as it forages in the crowns of open coniferous and mixed forests.  Like many birds it is much easier to hear.  Often a quick, rising “kbrick” call from high in the trees indicates the presence of this species.  During the breeding season the deliberately phrased song is common.  Each song phrase consists of evenly spaced 2 syllable elements, often with a rising, followed by a falling ending, giving it a lilting sing-song characteristic.  A phrase can be started with the “kbrick” call and erases all doubt as to the identity of the singer.  This can be heard at 6sec, 1min13sec and 1min21sec in the following recording.  The song of the western tanager also has a rough “burry” quality, totally different of the clear, sweet, voice of the American robin, whose song can be mistaken for the tanager’s.

    This recording was made on May 18, 2010 at 0550 when the morning chorus was in full swing.  Singing in the background are primarily Black-headed Grossbeaks (Pheucticus melanocephalus) and an occasional Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla).

    Telinga dish with PIP-4 mic into an Olympus LS-11 recorder.  The file has been edited for length and is otherwise just as recorded without any other processing.

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    Sometimes a bird will sit and just repeat the “kbrick” call and never launch into song.  The following file is a series of 5 calls with the timing intact.

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  • Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) Photo © Walt Carnahan

    A common song one hears in the western foothills is that of the mountain chickadee.  The three syllable call that sounds like “cheeseburger” or “dihh-da-da” is distinctive and unmistakable.  Yet within a distance of 9 miles and an elevation of from 3700’ to 5100’  I have noticed four distinct variations on this call; chickadee slang if you will.

    The recordings were made during the breeding season in 2007, 2008, and 2010.  I’m not smart enough to know what these variations signify and have not spent enough time in the field to determine if they are unique to different altitudes and locations or are common over this small range.

    The simple “dihh-da-da” call recorded on April 16, 2008 at the 3700’ level.  The file is the mono output of the omni directional capsule of a Telinga Twin Science mic with a parabolic dish into a Sound Devices 722 recorder.

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    Below is a sonogram of this call

    Mountain Chickadee basic 3 syllable call "dih-da-dah"

    The next variation, adding a syllable to the end so it becomes “dih-da-da-da” was recorded the same day at the same location with the same equipment.

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    Below is a sonogram of this call

    Mountain Chickadee 4 syllable variation “dih-da-da-dah”

    Further up the hill at 4570’ elevation, on April 29, 2007, with the same equipment(except into a Marantz PMD-671 recorder), I recorded an individual who exhibited two additional variations simultaneously.  The first adds a syllable to the beginning so it becomes “di-hii-da-da” and the second adds a syllable to both beginning and end, so now one hears “di-hii-da-da-da”.

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    Below is a sonogram of these calls

    Mountain Chickadee 4 and 5 syllable variants “di-hi-da-dah” and “di-hi-da-da-dah”

    And finally on May 14, 2010 at the 5100’ elevation I recorded a bird that used the 4 syllable “di-hii-da-da” call exclusively.  Recorded with Telinga dish and PIPP-4 stereo mic into an Olympus LS-11 recorder.

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    And a final sonogram

    Mountain Chickadee 4 syllable variation “di-hi-da-dah”

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  • In the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada one can hear bird songs consisting of trills starting in early spring.  To a beginner these trills can be hard to distinguish.  There are four principle trillers that can be encountered in  our area which centers around Grass Valley and Nevada City, California. Except for the chipping sparrow, these birds are common in this area.  The chipping sparrows can be heard for a short time as they move through the foothills to higher elevations.

    Dark-eyed Junco

    A single element of a dark-eyed junco trill, when expanded greatly, actually consists of three phrases.  These elements are repeated at ~ 11/sec to form the trill we  hear.  There are about 10 trills/minute.

    What to listen for:  Each trill tends to stays on the same note.  It does not get higher or lower in  pitch.  It is also cut off sharply.

    Here is one minute of audio.

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    Here is audio of just two trills, followed by a sonogram of them.  The sonograms can be viewed full size by double cklicking them.

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    Sonogram of 2 Dark-eyed Junco trills

    Orange-crowned Warbler

    The trill elements are repeated at ~19/sec, and there are between 4-5 trills per minute.

    What to listen for:  Each trill begins with a rising pitch which drops and tapers off as if the bird ran out of breath.

    Here is ~ 1 minute of  audio.

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    Here is audio of just two trills, followed by a sonogram of them.

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    Sonogram of 2 Orange-crowned Warbler  trills

    Sonogram of 2 Orange-crowned Warbler trills

    Spotted Towhee

    A single element of a spotted towhee trill consists of five distinct elements; a held note followed by 4 shorter and louder notes.  These elements are repeated ~18/sec for a single trill.  Trills are repeated 10-16/minute.

    What to listen for:  Each trill is preceded by a very short low note which is slurred to a high note followed by the trill in one smooth and quick sequence. The lead-in slur can be missed at times and only the trill is heard.  After the initial slur the trill tends to remain on a single note.

    Here is one minute of audio.

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    Here is audio of just two trills, followed by a sonogram of them.

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    Sonogram of 2 Spotted Towhee trills

    Sonogram of 2 Spotted Towhee trills

    Chipping Sparrow

    The elements of a Chipping Sparrow trill consist of single notes ~31/sec or ~11 trills/minute with variable intervals between trills.

    What to listen for:  The trills are very rapid and tend to build in volume before being cut off sharply.  The length of each trill tends to be variable in length.  Some birders ascribe a more mechanical or insect-like quality to this triller.

    Here is one minute of audio.

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    Here is audio of just two trills, followed by a sonogram of them.

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    Sonogram of 2 Chipping Sparrow trills

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  • My friend owling friend Rudy called on July 22, 2009 and said a friend of his had begging immature western screech owls in his yard.  The area is rural western Nevada County with plenty of houses and barking dogs in among the trees of mixed oak and conifers.  We went before dusk and it wasn’t long before the two juveniles started their begging calls.  The owls appeared not to mind any of the human activities or noises, from someone playing the vibes, dogs barking, talking, etc.  The birds were moving from tree to tree and at times could be seen silhouetted against the sky and were observed moving their heads in all axes, as if on gimbals, trying to figure us out.

    In this recording the two owls are silhouetted against the sky about twenty feet away in an oak tree.  This is their begging call at 2041 on July 23, 2009.

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    The next recording was taken at 2050 after the juveniles had moved to a large oak tree about 10 feet away.  An adult landed in the tree and gave a short bark, which I missed on the recording.  Almost immediately   high pitched, excited calls emanated from the tree, followed by  begging calls from one owl.  We did not observe any food being handed off, but it is possible tha one of the fledgelings got fed, based on just a single bird begging afterward.

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    The following are two primitive attempts at the typical “bouncing ball” call of adult birds as attempted by one of the juveniles.

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    Below is a photo by Rudy Darling of one of the western screech owl juveniles in an alert position.

    Photography: Rudy Darling

    Photography: Rudy Darling

    This is a photo of the same bird moments later in stealth mode. Eyes closed and body skinnier and elongated, with “ears” raised, and a much more “barklike” appearance.

    Photography: Rudy Darling

    Photography: Rudy Darling

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  • Unfortunately, a lot of this has been going on around here, instead of new files being posted.

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    This has to stop.

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  • Recorded with Telinga dish and twin science microphone in the afternoon of January 25, 2009 at Heirman County Park in Snohomish along the Snohomish River.  This is mono only from the right channel (cardioid) of distant bald eagles calling.

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  • While in the Rock Creek Nature area East of Nevada  City, CA on the night of July 18, 2007, great-horned owls were active.  A juvenile was begging, and this female was squawking away.  One could easily mistake this vocalization for a noise normally protested against in social settings with a certain vehemence.  A begging juvenile can be heard faintly in the background (as always, use headphones when possible to get the subtle background sounds).

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  • July 18, 2007, six minutes to three in the Sierra foothills East of Nevada City, CA, looking for owls.  The moon had set hours before, but one could see fairly well by starlight.  I was exploring an area by car and stopping every .2 miles to get out and listen for a while.  Fairly often just the dinging of the key in the ignition alarm when opening the door to get out will set off owls in an area.  At this location I listened for a while and while walking up the road started hearing this odd repetitive hissing noise coming from low out of thick cover ahead.  Not having a clue of what was the cause, I started recording.  During recording I heard a bird moving, so  figured this was a bird of some kind. The regularity and quality of the sound reminded me of an air cylinder cycling.  Thinking about this on the way home it hit me that it also sounded somewhat like someone sharpening a knife on a stone. Saw-whet owl came to mind, as one of their calls supposedly reminds somewhat of sharpening a saw.  I have yet to hear it anywhere, including the internet.  I sent a snippet of the file to Bruce Webb, a local owl expert, and was told that what I had recorded was a juvenile Northern saw-whet owl begging for food.

    The sound at 26.5 sec is the bird moving in the thick cover.

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