2013 and beyond

It's pretty simple: the most birds seen or heard from one's yard during 2013 will be the "winner". Want in? O.k....then do it despite that.

2013 promises to be a lot less mean but still a carbon-free birding competition, even if slightly less exciting than a MEGA x EPIC hybrid.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nocturnal flight calls- heating up

I am officially now up and running, recording & analyzing the nocturnal flight calls over my house!

The purpose of this post is to get you guys to all do this so we can add another subcontest to the blog for all species recorded by one's mic (translation: b/c it is the coolest thing ever but you will not recognize this fact until it is up and running at your house, and I am your friend). Plus, this will REALLY help you out Sean as you move to urban Illinois and have few passerines by day, and Curtis it should greatly increase your list as well, since much of what migrates over will never stop in your yards. Here is my final setup:
Last night I began looking through calls for the first time and I am just now starting to assign them to species or categories. All of these calls were recorded during the first half of the night on 11/12 Sep 2009, I exported about 20-25 that were legible from that period. These are the ones I feel most confident about, but there are many more mystery calls. (In each case the y axis goes from 0-10 kHz, but I didn't take the time to create axes. The x axis varies but typically the full screen shows about 0.3-0.6 seconds):

Tennessee Warbler (possibly but less likely Nashville):
Oblong-winged Katydid
Cape May Warbler:
American Redstart (possibly but less likely Ovenbird)
American Redstart (possibly but less likely Ovenbird)
Grasshopper Sparrow? Dave, need some help on this one:
Bay-breasted Warbler?:
Magnolia Warbler:
Chestnut-sided Warbler:


  1. Call me a skeptic, but I need more specifics on this game. Can somebody describe the requirements for a countable species in this competition? To what extent is the human element here (ie: ID by ear) and where does the mechanics take over (ID by software)?

  2. To answer Rick's question: ID is ONLY by analyzing the sonograms against the library of sonograms in the Flight Call CD Rom, a small number of examples of which are here:


    I am open to discussion, but to me, we should only count these things as actual yardbirds if we HEAR a call note, make note of the exact time we heard it, then went inside and backtracked the recording to that moment and were able to verify the ID of the sonogram. This would be no different from recording an unseen owl at night which turned out to be verifiable as Flammulated by sonogram.

    That said, I am also proposing we all get microphones and just keep a separate tally of all species detected by the mic.

    To answer Dave's question, no I am not, but there are average differences which appear to be informative. The tail end of the double-baned upsweep of TEWA seems to be upswept (again, an average, not diagnostic difference), while NAWA stays straight with the rest of the note. This is why I lean towards TEWA. It should also be noted that BTNW (yes, Dendroica) and OCWA are also very similar to both TEWA and NAWA.

    So, thoughts, everyone?

  3. Bill Evans contacted me and said the BBWA call here is not likely from that species. It normally has 2 humps, a downslurred angle, such the tail is lower than the front end.

    More importantly, he CONFIRMED the GRSP identification- so, eat it everyone! It's just too bad I wasn't outside to hear it when it went over...

  4. I think this whole competition you guys have going is awesome. I have a state-wide competition going with some friends in NJ right now. Keep it up! Nothing like competitive birding...


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