I spent some time this morning recording sparrow songs in Harrison County Texas. I got a nice recording of White-crowned Sparrow singing typical Eastern Subspecies (Z. l. leucophrys) songs. There were several White-crowned Sparrows in the hedge-row area. Here is a short segment of the singing. The strong song is the adult male song. All through the recording the strong song is followed by a weaker jumbled version of the song. I am not sure if this is immature male mimicking or a weak female song.

(Eastern) White-crowned Sparrow Song

This was recorded using the Marantz PMD661 compact flash recorder  with ME67 Sennheiser Spot Shotgun microphone , K6 Sennheiser Power Supply .

The recording was filtered with a high pass filter set with a quality factor of 0.6 and a 12 dB reduction in the range of 0-700 Hz to reduce background highway noise.

Lovely morning with temperatures in the mid 40’s. Other species recorded were White-throated Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Meadowlark and Song Sparrow.

This morning I took a walk along the Boorman Trail in Longview, Texas. This little Winter Wren was very boldly scolding me as I approached the base of the tree where he perched. The recording was made using the iPhone internal mic and BlueFire software.

Winter Wren Alarm Call

The biggest surprise was hearing Sandhill Cranes calling while I was trying to record a Blue-headed Vireo. A group of 12 Sandhill Cranes were flying very high overhead. The sound of the cranes can be heard on the recording but the sound is mostly obscured by the nearby road noise. I used band pass filtering keeping frequencies from 800 to 5000 Hz to try and isolate the Crane Call. The attached mp3 has one Sandhill Crane flight call that was the clearest on the recording.

Sandhill Crane Flight Call

Here is a screen shot of the recording spectrogram showing the small segment that was band pass filtered.

Late Fall Birding

Well it has been quite a while since I have posted to this blog. The make it short, I’ve had to deal with some difficult health issues. The good news is that I am much better and things are looking up.

Today’s blog is simply to note my First of Season (FOS) Red-breasted Nuthatch. I used my iPHone to catch part of the call. Just an ID recording.

Here is it is. The first thing heard is Red-breasted Nuthatch(RBNU) followed by a Carolina Chickadee. The partial RBNU call is followed by American Crow, Blue Jay and Carolina Chickadee.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Crossroads BBS

I spent Sunday running the Crossroads Breeding Bird Survey for the USDA. The Crossroads BBS Route runs near and along the Texas – Louisiana State Line, starting in Harrison County and ending in Panola County. This is a yearly event and a demanding one as it requires leaving home at 4:10 am to start the route promptly at 5:40 am. The route is 25 miles long and a stop to count birds is made at 1/2 mile intervals. I usually finish the task around 11:30 am.

The reward for getting out early is hearing a chorus of Chuck-will’s-widow. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a recording of that as I forgot to turn up the gain on the recorder. Time constraints limit the number of BBS stops that can be recorded but I managed to record about a dozen stops. The quality of the recordings is not great as there is no time for monitoring the recording process. I simply turn up the gain ( when I remember ), prop the microphone on my truck’s side mirror and let it run the three minutes that I am taking field notes for the BBS stop. I will be posting a few of the most interesting recordings from the BBS survey route.

The first recording of interest consists of a full 3-minute BBS stop and includes a prominent Orange-crowned Warbler. This BBS Stop was in Panola County. According to the Texas Wildlife “Pineywoods of East Texas Field Checklist“, most Orange-crowned Warblers leave Texas by mid-April, with a few rare records into the first week or two of May. I have been hearing OCWA over the last several weeks and am glad to finally have a record of one singing away. I will also have to make the recording available to the BBS records as the BBS data has no records of OCWA this late and into the breeding season.

Is this just a late migrant? Probably.

Orange-crowned Warbler Singing – May 20, 2012 – Panola County, Texas

This recording includes the full length of the 3 minute BBS Count. There are numerous other birds singing in addition to the Orange-crowned Warbler. A short section was deleted as a car passed by. 

Problem Mystery Bird

I recorded a bird today in Panola County that is very odd. If I didn’t have the recording I wouldn’t tell anyone what I heard.

I was in a largely wooded area. There were two houses nearby, one at 0.16 mile distance and one at 0.2 mile distance. I saw no-one, the birds were singing, no cars came by at any time I birded the road. The area was heavily wooded.

If you listen carefully, there is a “cuckoo” call similar to a “Common Cuckoo” sounding at irregular intervals. I did not see the bird but it was a bird, I was aware as it moved away from me.  The call is irregular, not at a steady interval which would be expected from a mechanical source.

Here is the recording. I did not not edit the recording other than to use a frequency leveling tool to bring out the lower frequency more ( bring out the cuckoo sound).

The call can be seen on the spectogram between 1000 and 1500 Hz.

Mystery Cuckoo

The more prominent Bird Songs on the recording are Tufted Titmouse and Black-and-white Warbler.

Here is a link to the location. If you look at the Satellite view you can see woods.


I debated posting this, but it is what it is. Just very difficult to explain.

I made numerous other recordings from the day. The highlight was finding Bell’s Vireo in Panola County and also a Canada Warbler ( although silent).

I went to a rural farm area on the Smith/Rusk County Line to look for Yellow-headed Blackbirds. None were found but Bobolinks were found in a field full of Eastern Kingbirds and singing away. These were the first Bobolinks I’ve found in the Pineywoods. They are not often seen here.

Here is a short recording made with my iPhone.

I continue to use my iPhone to make recordings. It’s very convenient for identifying birds. This morning I used the BlueFire app and the iPhone mic. I purchased Fire the other day but I can’t get it to work. I have mixed results using Mickey (mic) and just stuck with the internal mic today.

Best of the morning was capturing another Scarlet Tanager singing.

I am beginning to recognize Scarlet Tanager song from the Summer Tanager Song. I can never see them in the trees ( I know, this is hard to understand for a brilliant red bird, but there are a lot of leaves!) I do better on seeing the Summer Tanagers but not always.

None the less, making these recordings has helped me to recognize Scarlet Tanagers were previously I just thought I had another Summer Tanager.

It was a beautiful morning but slow on warblers after the abundance of then the previous two days.