Wednesday, March 25

Flycatcher Songs I

Flycatchers are unique among North American passerines in that their songs are not learnt.

The Eastern Phoebe has two song phrases, fee-bee and fee-be-be. Fee-bee is more commonly heard during the day, fee-be-be at dawn (see Flycatcher songs II : dawn songs). This song, made up almost entirely of fee-be-bes, was recorded one hour after sunrise (May, RI).



This is the flight song of the Eastern Phoebe, which I quite by accident obtained while recording chickadees (hence the poor quality). The phoebe was fluttering above tall trees and started with a series of its regular chip notes followed by a rapid series of both song phrases. This is a rarely heard song and given the date, March 21st, was about the time of spring arrival on territory. The time was 9.21 am. (also heard Carolina Chickadee and Blue Jay, PA).

time scale reduced

The Eastern Wood-Pewee has a two phrase day-time song. In this example, it is interspersing the song with whiny notes made while fluttering its wings. (May, NJ)

whiny notes

An odd version of the song (June, NJ).

The Acadian Flycatcher song is the familiar "pizza". Frequently also heard is a trill that is uttered with wing fluttering, often when changing perches.
(with Ovenbird, June, NJ)

(June, NJ>


The Least Flycatcher also may also include a trill in between its song phrases (4 trills followed by song phrases, May, NJ).


The song of the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is similar to the Least Flycatcher, but a little lower and buzzier, and delivered at a slower pace (except at dawn); it too sometimes includes a trill in between phrases (July, ME).

trill at 3 and 18s

The Alder and Willow Flycatcher, so similar in appearance, have very different songs.
Willow, three different phrases, fizz-bew, fitz-bew and creet(June, NJ).

fizz-bew and fitz-bew

creet and fitz-bew

Alder (July, ME)

The song may be interspersed with various call notes (July, ME).

double-peaked call

complex call at 8s

The Great Crested Flycatcher has a song based on its 4 basic call notes and 8 other intermediate notes. It sings/calls loudly from high in trees, and pairs sometimes duet.
whit calls(May,PA)

wheep and purrit calls (May, ND)

rasp notes(May, NJ)

"Wheep-werr" is a common note combination (May, NJ)

Pair duetting in tree adjacent to nest tree. At 160s the (presumed) female returned to the nest-hole, 20 feet up in a birch, and the male continued to vocalize alone (May, RI).

The Eastern Kingbird chatter-zeer call, rapidly repeated, is considered the song.
(shortly after dawn from high in a tree, May, NJ).

Olive-sided Flycatcher (migrant, May, PA)

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