[Tweeters] Cordilleran Flycatcher and bird recordings
cmborre1 at gmail.com
Wed Jun 26 11:06:34 PDT 2019
We just returned from a great extended weekend birding in our beautiful SE
corner of the state with my goal of adding a Cordilleran Flycatcher to my
Washington list. The only way I was going to do this to my satisfaction
was to record the male's call and visualize the two part call on a
spectrogram after uploading it to ebird. Our more common Pacific-slope
Flycatcher has a similar call but it is one up-slurred note. This is hard
for the ear to detect, but easy to see on a spectrogram.
I realize there is controversy regarding whether these birds should have
been separated or if they should still be called "Western Flycatcher", the
AOU will sort that out, but my quest was to merely add Cordilleran if I
could feel good about my documentation. I recorded all Pac-slope types I
heard calling and could call none Cordilleran. I would encourage recording
calling birds when trying to document Cordilleran. Here are some links and
tools to help:
1. Listen to Nathan Pieplow at the following podcast. I will be
purchasing his book the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Western (or
Eastern) North America. He explains spectrograms in detail and why we
should record bird songs in the field and upload them to ebird.
2. Read Nathan's article on "The Western Flycatcher problem" on his
3. If you can figure out how to use the app he recommends for recording in
the field, it's called SpectrumView (for iphone); please teach me how, I
found it somewhat confusing. I prefer Voice Record Pro to record in the
field with my iphone I then email the recording to myself and upload the
file to ebird as you would a photo. Ebird generates the spectrogram and it
is here that I visually confirmed every "Western Flycatcher" I heard and
recorded was Pacific-slope.
Analyzing spectrograms is also a way to potentially ID an unknown bird
vocalization using Nathan's book and I'm sure reliable phone apps in the
future. Ebird really wants to increase it's library of bird sounds as this
will be another way of documenting birds for those of us unable to master
the fine art of focusing a camera. That's why I shoot video, sooner or
later something's in focus!
Hope you find this information as exciting as I did.
As an aside, anyone wanting to go on a hunt for Kentucky Warbler? I have
the next few days off (and my birding buddy does not), please contact me.
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