Friday, February 13

Sparrow calls II : chip calls

Chip calls are generally given as an alarm call by agitated birds. I've also included chip calls of non-sparrows that are similar to the sparrow calls.

The "chimp' call of the Song Sparrow is distinctive among sparrows. Also on this recording made in July at Palmyra Cove, NJ, is a higher chip, which indicates increased agitation, such as when an intruder is close to young or the nest.

high chip

The call of the Winter Wren can be mistaken for the chimp call of the Song Sparrow, but it is usually given in pairs, but not always as in this recording(Oct,PA).

The sonagrams are very similar.

The Fox Sparrow call is a smacking chip (Jan, NJ).

(Mar, NJ)

Note the anomalous chip at 9s:

The call is similar to that of the Brown Thrasher, which is usually louder and more emphatic (Sep, NJ).

The Lincoln's Sparrow chip sounds close to the Fox Sparrow, but is perhaps a little softer (two birds, Oct, PA)

(Oct, PA)

(Oct, NJ).

The slightly higher Dark-eyed Junco chip is another call that sounds like two stones being hit together; it is very similar to the chip note of the Black-throated Blue Warbler (Nov, PA)

Black-throated Blue Warbler (May, PA).

The Savannah Sparrow has a chip that often sounds a little like that of the junco, but appears to be quite variable. Three examples:
(Oct, PA).

(Oct, PA).

(breeding grounds, Jul, ME).

The Vesper Sparrow chip is similar and also variable in pitch (breeding grounds, July, ME).

Le Conte's Sparrow is also similar (Nov, PA).

The Swamp Sparrow has an emphatic chip. Eastern Phoebe is similar but lower and more subdued.
Swamp Sparrow (Oct, NJ)

(Oct, PA)

Eastern Phoebe (Apr, PA).

The Field Sparrow has a somewhat slurred, husky or dry chip (Feb, NJ). The v-shape gives it a slightly doubled, or slurred sound, which is shared by two eastern warblers, Prothonotary and Orange-crowned.
(July, NJ)

Note the titter-like calls at 6 and 19s, and the flight call at 41s (Feb, NJ).


Prothonotary Warbler chip for comparison (Apr, NJ).

The Chipping Sparrow has a high-pitched v-shaped chip (Aug, NJ).

(Nov, PA)

This Clay-colored Sparrow chip is even higher (May, ND).

The chip of the American Tree Sparrow does not seem to be heard often in winter. Interestingly, it sounds very similar to the chip of the Hooded Warbler and has a similar sonagram.
American Tree Sparrow (background Carolina Wren, Nov, NJ).

Hooded Warbler (breeding grounds, May, NJ).

The alarm call of the Grasshopper Sparrow, heard here on its breeding grounds, June in NJ, sounds just like...a Grasshopper. The sonagram shows that it is actually a doubled (sometimes tripled) chip. It is also given singly, perhaps when under less stress.

Single chips are a little lower (June, NJ).

The commonly given chips of the White-throated Sparrow appear to serve as a contact function as well as an alarm call.
(Nov, PA)

Persistent calls at dawn (Oct, PA)

The chip call of the White-crowned Sparrow is shorter than that of the White-throated (leucophrys subspecies,Oct, NJ).

gambelli subspecies (June, AK).

This call has a similar sonagram and can sound similar to the alarm call of the Blue Grosbeak (May, NJ).

Harris's Sparrow chip for comparison (Mar, NE).

The Seaside Sparrow chip sounds very similar to the chip of the Eurasian Wren (Aug, NJ).

Nelson's Sparrow, mostly high chips (July, ME),

The familiar chewink call of the Eastern Towhee (with Northern Mockingbird, Dec, PA).

A variant of the call(Oct, NJ).

Adult pair calling with high chip calls, near fledglings (June, NJ).


Unknown said...

Hi Paul,

Regarding the 8th recording down on the page of Dark-eyed Junco chip notes, which sparrow is that calling in the background? Is it a White-throated Sparrow or some other Zonotrichia?

Thanks and great post,


Paul Driver said...

Hi Tayler,

Yes, it's a White-throated Sparrow.


Anonymous said...

Define a "chip" ??

I think of a chip as the "tink" of a Song Sparrow moving in among the grasses or the list tzsst of a White-throated Sparrow moving through the trees feeding.

Chip seems to be used in the bird song libraries to mean anything from the lightest tink to alarm calls.

Have you ever seen the word "chip" defined?


Paul Driver said...

To me a chip call is the commonly heard alarm call given by warblers and sparrows. There is some variation within these families, but the calls fall into a quite definable category. Other families of birds tend to have alarm calls that are more variable and/or do not sound chip-like.