Sunday, March 1

Titmice calls

The members of Paridae have a wide range of vocalizations that often do not fall neatly into the call and song categories, perhaps more than any other family. Some of their calls are distinctive, but others are high-pitched notes that cannot be easily distinguished from those of the other birds they associate with in winter, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Brown Creeper. These calls are important to listen for when searching for warblers in the fall.

Contact calls

A pair of foraging Carolina Chickadees (Tufted Titmouse singing). The sip contact calls are mostly level and high-pitched (7-8 kHz) but are variable on the sonagram (Feb, PA)

Longer calls at 37 sec

Another example of contact calls by a single bird (Mar, PA).

si-si-si call at 2s

The call at 22s appeared to function as an alarm

Black-capped Chickadee contact calls (Sep, ME).

(Sep, ME)

The most common tip contact calls of the Tufted Titmouse may be even higher than those of the Carolina Chickadee and are descending, but there is much overlap between the two species (Feb, PA).

Rising swee calls (Jan, NJ)

Descending tsew calls similar to Field Sparrow (Dec, PA)

Tsee-tsap and other calls (Dec, PA)

Tufted Titmice on average have the highest calls among these birds. This call has a frequency of 10 kHz and is sadly inaudible to many birders(Apr, NJ)

Another commonly heard high-pitched call is this one, often repeated over and over in song-like fashion (Mar, PA).

time scale reduced

Calls by four interacting birds, including an unusual high-pitched buzz by one of them; the bird fluttered its wings when it made the call, which begins with a soft chuck (Mar, PA).

Scolding calls

Carolina Chickadee si-si-si and scolding calls (June, NJ)

The high-pitched si-si-si and chick and dee scolding calls, by a single Carolina Chickadee (Dec, PA).


chick and dee calls

The same three calls by Black-capped Chickadees (Feb, NY).

si-si-si calls (center)

An odd hoarse dee-dee by a Carolina Chickadee. I listened to it for a while and the dee-dees were always this version (with another "normal" sounding chickadee, Mar, PA).

Tufted Titmouse scolding calls
(Feb, PA)


Another Tufted Titmouse call, possibly a scolding call variant (May, NJ).

Boreal Chickadee scolding (July, ME)

Gargle calls

Each Carolina Chickadee has a repertoire of several gargle calls (Feb, PA).

Gargle calls appear to be learnt, and it is used here at dawn as a song rather than a call (May, PA).

Black-capped Chickadee gargle (Sep, ME).

Boreal Chickadee gargle (July, ME)

Gargle vocalizations are a good example of the difficulty in determining whether or not a sound is a call or a song. It "sounds" like a call, but in at least some situations is used as a song. Individual birds have their own repertoire of gargles, and as they are learnt, these vocalizations have characteristics more associated with song.

Other Carolina Chickadee calls

Begging calls (broken-dee, BNA) of an adult female Carolina Chickadee requesting food from a male (early May, NJ).

High-pitched series of notes (variable see, BNA), uttered between mated pairs during nest-building and pre-copulation, and usually associated with gargle calls (Apr, PA).

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