[Tweeters] Purple Finch mimicking Steller's Jay?

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Wed May 19 18:57:30 PDT 2021

Dear Tweeters,
Today, the nineteenth of May, a pair of Purple Finches performed some nuptial rituals in a pear tree. This was in my yard in Skagit County. The male was singing some beautiful songs, outdoing the usual Purple Finch repertoire by quite a margin. 
Meanwhile, I kept hearing what I thought was a Steller's Jay. The jays have not been noticeable in my neighborhood of late, probably because they get quiet during breeding season. However, every time I was ready to make a mental note to write "STJA" in my field notebook later, I realized that I could hear the "rapid-fire calling" [as the Sibley app calls it] only at the same time that the Purple Finch was singing.  Over the course of half an hour, I must have heard the jay-like vocalization ten or more times, but each time, it was right in the middle of a complicated song given by a Purple Finch.
I always think of this rapid-fire call as the "Three Stooges" vocalization. To me, it sounds somewhat like Shemp Howard saying "nyuk nyuk nyuk." 
In any case, I think that I may have witnessed a Purple Finch engaging in vocal mimicry. Is that something they do?
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch
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