For the Birds Radio Program: Familiar Songs and Calls

Original Air Date: July 2, 1986

Laura plays some very common bird sounds to help listeners figure out what birds they’re hearing.

Duration: 3′13″


Familiar Songs

(Recording of a Chipping Sparrow)

That dry trill is a common summer sound in Duluth, but most people don’t know what it is–it’s the song of the Chipping Sparrow.

(Recording of a Chipping Sparrow)

The Chipping Sparrow is a tiny, handsome bird, with a clear, gray breast, a rusty cap, and a black eye-line. It nests wherever there are spruce trees, which means just about every neighborhood in Duluth.

Two whistled songs are often heard around here in summer. The White-throated Sparrow’s rhythm pattern seems to say, “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.”

(Recording of a White-throated Sparrow)

Of course, north of the border, white-throats change their tune–up there they sing, “Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.”

(Recording of a White-throated Sparrow)

The Black-capped Chickadee is the other bird with a whistled song– it has the same sweet quality of a White-throated Sparrow. But the Chickadee’s song has only three notes.

(Recording of a Black-capped Chickadee song)

Only the male chickadee sings–to warn other males off his territory and to attract a mate and maintain the pair-bond. The chickadee’s familiar call is different.

(Recording of a Black-capped Chickadee’s call) This call is made by both males and females, and is probably used for communication within a group.

There are three hooting sounds people often wonder about in Duluth. One is heard in the daytime.

(Recording of the Mourning Dove)

That’s not an owl–it’s a Mourning Dove. The Great Horned Owl–the big, yellow-eyed owl with feather tufts, like horns, on his head–has a mellow hoot, with no particular rhythm pattern:

(Recording of a Great Horned Owl)

Our other large owl, the Barred Owl, is named for the horizontal barring on its breast. This owl has brown eyes and no feather tufts. It’s hoot is more strident, and seems to follow the rhythm pattern, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you, all?”

(Recording of a Barred Owl)

Great Horned Owls and Barred Owls are fairly common, although secretive, in most Duluth neighborhoods..

This is Laura Erickson, and this program has been “For the Birds.”

(Recording of a Barred Owl)