Friday, January 16

Warbler calls I : chip calls

Chip calls are made by all the warblers, and function as an alarm call, but in some species also as a contact call. In migration, many warbler species chip frequently, but others, such as Black-and-white, Blackpoll and Northern Parula, less commonly use the call.

Unique chips

The most unusual and distinct call of all may be that of the Magnolia Warbler. To me it sounds like a hoarse House Sparrow (breeding grounds, July, ME)

(migrant, Oct, NJ).

A male calling and singing (May, PA).

chip and first note of song

A variant of this call can be sweeter and less hoarse, even recalling the chip of Connecticut Warbler (Sep, ME).

Next is the husky call of the Common Yellowthroat, again pretty distinctive, more likely to be confused with Song Sparrow if poorly heard (migrant, April, PA).

Persistent calls at dawn (Sep, ME).

The call of the Connecticut Warbler is a unique, sweet, musical call, and is quite commonly heard at dawn, but only rarely thereafter.
Bird calling from Japanese hops at dawn (Sep, NJ).

Pre-dawn from edge of weedy field (Sep, PA)

This bird was high up in a willow at dawn (Oct, NJ).

Note the strong harmonics which give it that musical quality.

The Black-throated Blue Warbler chip is a hard chip similar to the call of a Dark-eyed Junco.
(May, PA).

The Cape May Warbler has a very high, short chip (Sep, NJ). Note that several other warbler species have similar very high chips in their repertoire (see Warbler calls III : high chip and miscellaneous other calls).

The Hooded Warbler has a clear, hard chip that is quite different from other chip calls (except perhaps Louisiana Waterthrush). The sonagram has (among the eastern warblers) a unique L-shape.
(migrant, May, PA)

(breeding grounds, May, NJ)

Yellow-breasted Chats have two alarm calls, a mockingbird-like skow and this call, a low hard wren-like tuk (Oct, PA).

A sharper, shorter tuk by a hidden bird, male singing nearby (May, PA).

skow (July, DE).

Twik-like chips

The Northern Waterthrush has a metallic "twik" call, distinctive among the warblers, but which could be confused with the calls of Gray Catbird or Indigo Bunting.
(May, PA)

(Oct, NJ)

In comparison, the Louisiana Waterthrush has a slightly husky, hard chip with no metallic sound (breeding habitat, June, PA).

(April, NJ)

The Nashville Warbler chip is metallic and sounds like a soft Northern Waterthrush (May, PA).

The Mourning Warbler chip call is a husky twik (Sep, PA).

The Gray Catbird has a call that is frequently heard late summer into fall that sounds very similar to the Mourning Warbler.
(Sep, NJ)

(July, PA)

Indigo Buntings also have a twik-like call (adult,Aug, NJ).

This migrant male Black-and-white Warbler was calling and singing in May at Palmyra Cove in NJ. The call is a soft twik.

A second example of Black-and-white Warbler (breeding grounds, June, NJ, with Tufted Titmouse calling).

Male on breeding grounds (July, ME).

The western subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler has a clear twik-like chip call (see below).

Slurred chips

Only two species have what I call "slurred" chips: Prothonotary and Orange-crowned. They share a unique (among the eastern warblers) V-shaped sonagram, and sound similar, with a slightly doubled sound. Here's the Prothonotary (breeding grounds, April, NJ):

Orange-crowned Warbler (Feb, NC).

Yellow Warbler-like

The Yellow Warbler has a chip that might be called the generic chip call. Many species give this type of chip, and it's difficult, perhaps impossible, to tell them apart. These species include American Redstart, Worm-eating, Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Pine, Blue-winged,and Golden-winged.

Yellow Warbler (July, NJ).

Chips being given in a rapid series by a female Yellow Warbler (May, NJ).

American Redstart. This was a female returning to a nest with food for well-grown chicks at Palmyra, NJ in June.

A second example of American Redstart, an adult male in migration at Palmyra in August.

Blackpoll Warbler, migrant (Oct, NJ).

Multiple Blackpoll Warblers, mostly immatures (breeding grounds, Sep, ME).

Pine Warbler in breeding habitat (April, NJ).

Worm-eating Warbler in breeding habitat (June, NJ).

Swainson's Warbler, adult in vicinity of fledgling (June, NC).

Higher-pitched Chips

Blackburnian Warbler female, with interactive calls at end when the male arrived.
The chip sounds a little higher than the chips of the Yellow Warbler group.(breeding grounds, July, ME)

The Northern Parula chip also sounds high-pitched.
Three examples, showing some variation, but the chip always seems to me to sound weaker than the chips of the other species.
(breeding grounds,July, ME).

(migrant, Sep, NJ).

(July, ME)

Tennessee Warbler also has a high-pitched chip (Sep, PA).

Lower-pitched Chips

Kentucky Warbler is distinctly lower pitched than the other species (except Kirtland's), creating a "richer" sound (breeding grounds, May, NJ).

Kirtland's Warbler (male,breeding grounds,May, MI)

Yellow-rumped Warbler-like

These chip calls have an inverted V shape on the sonagram and sound variously like chup or chep, with a softer sound than the Yellow Warbler group.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) is a low chup (Oct, PA).

The western subspecies, Audubon's, has a very different clear twik (Feb, NV).

Compare Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) and Blackpoll Warblers calling together (Sep, ME).

Yellow-rumped Warbler and American Redstart (sharper chip) together (July, ME).

Yellow-rumped Warbler and Canada Warbler (husky chip) together (July, ME).

Compared with the Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle), the Black-throated Green Warbler has a higher chep note (Oct, NJ).

A Black-throated Green Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warblers foraging together, for comparison (Oct, PA).

The chip of the Palm Warbler is quite similar to that of the Black-throated Green Warbler.
Eastern subspecies (April, PA).

Palm Warbler, eastern subspecies, (Oct, PA).

Palm Warbler, western subspecies (Oct, PA).

The chips show some variation on the sonagram:

Western subspecies (Oct, PA).

The Chestnut-sided Warbler has a chep call that is a little sharper than the others in this category, but significantly different from the Yellow Warbler-like complex.
(Sep, ME)

The above chep call is the one that I usually hear from Chestnut-sided Warblers, but as with probably most of these chip calls, it can change with increased stress, as with this male near fledglings, where the chip sounds harder (July, ME).

The Yellow-throated Warbler has a very similar chep to the Chestnut-sided (ssp dominica, April, NJ).

Husky chip

Canada Warbler (migrant May, PA)

Prairie Warbler (breeding grounds, May, PA).

(breeding grounds,June, NJ)

Here's Prairie (husky) and Common Yellowthroat (very husky) together in the Pine Barrens of NJ in June.

Wilson's Warbler also has a husky chip (male migrant, Sep, PA).

Smacking chip

The Ovenbird has smacking chips that vary higher or lower in pitch, possibly depending on the level of stress. This recording of two birds has one bird calling lower than the other (May, NJ).

A different chip by a female returning to a nest with eggs. The chip is huskier than normal (May, NJ).

This is Ovenbird and Kentucky Warbler together in Glassboro Woods WMA, NJ in June.

Ovenbird and Black-throated Green Warbler together (July, ME).

Ovenbird and Black-and-white Warbler together (July, NJ).

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