Boidnoise Various nature recordings by Bernhard Kroeger

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  • Mountian Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) Slang of the Western Sierra Nevada Foothills

    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”

    Published on August 20, 2010 · Filed under: BIRD SLANG; Tagged as: , , ,
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