Many of you enjoyed the Carolina Wren sound recordings in the last blog. I love recording birds and listening to the results. But I especially enjoy looking at the spectrograms, where I can “see” the sounds and learn more about them. Birds’ songs and calls are a lot more interesting and complex than many people realize. The same holds true for their non-vocal sounds.
I decided to go out on 3/10 and record our little male friend again. I know he’s male, because female Carolina Wrens don’t sing. That said, any number of female birds do sing. Just not Ms. Carolina. Female bird song has become an interesting area of study. I covered the topic a bit in “Birds Haven’t Changed.”
I ventured out a little later this time (5:45 instead of 5:15 a.m.). There wasn’t any wind or wind chime noise. A Northern Cardinal sang in the background, and the railyard was quiet. Here’s the song.
Here again are the first two songs for comparison.
Talk about song variety (and vocal agility).
Now, here’s the same bird calling (as it moved around). Note the more musical and sweeter quality of the songs.
Here’s a recent pic of a male or female. To me, it perfectly captures this “stocky and large-headed” species. It also captures a bird whose preferred habitat is dense cover. Carolina Wrens aren’t creatures of open country.
More Signs of Spring
Let’s look at some more “signs of spring” photos that didn’t make the cut as I put together “New Beginnings.” And let’s start with the Brown Pelican. There’s been an unusual influx of these birds recently into some of the branches and creeks of the Elizabeth River in South Hampton Roads. Some of the birds may be spring migrants. It could be the food abundance, or the warmer water and shelter these areas provide.
Below is an adult undergoing its spring molt. I asked the bird to turn its head slightly for the shoot, and it accommodated. Note the back and side of its neck, which is slowly turning a dark reddish-brown. The head is becoming yellower, too.
Here’s another bird undergoing a spring molt—a newly arrived Laughing Gull. It’s acquiring its dark head and reddish bill and legs. I found this bird on Scott’s Creek in Portsmouth on 2/28, the same day I found my first spring-arriving Osprey.
Speaking of Ospreys, here’s an Osprey pair on nest on a large steel pile (for want of a better word) in the Elizabeth River. It was early morning. It was also a “Chelsea morning.” These new arrivals may have nested here last year. That nest failed. This year, they’ve been busy building a new one as well as engaging in copulation behavior. Copulation is repeated often, which is probably true for many birds during breeding season.
Notice the rope and dirty rag that have been added to the nest. As we discussed the difference between Bald Eagle and Osprey nests, Reese Lukei of the Center for Conservation Biology told me that Ospreys were the “junk collectors,” whereas eagles just use sticks. Of course, eagles line the nest cup with finer and softer natural material. Here’s a Bald Eagle nest. The male is about to take over the incubation duties.
Lastly, here’s something I’ve never seen before, a Double-crested Cormorant with double crests! These are only visible on adults during the breeding season. I made a big deal about the birds’ gape, their webbed toes, and their antics in “A Few Random Thoughts,” but I had nothing to say there about their crests. Now, I can say something. The photo is underexposed and I missed the jade eye, but I’ll settle for a shot any day that captures something special.