Monday, April 6

Flycatcher calls

Nomenclature for the Traill's Flycatchers is per McCallum at
The alarm calls of the Alder and Willow Flycatcher are very different, and a good way to identify an unknown bird if you are lucky enough to hear it call whit.

The most common Willow Flycatcher call is a whit. Alder does not have a similar call (June, NJ).

Another example (June, PA)

Compare with the common Alder Flycatcher call (July, ME).

Be aware that the Willow Flycatcher has a similar pip call, less commonly heard. It is less symmetric on spectrogram than that of Alder, and squeakier in sound (July, PA).

Whup is very similar to pip, but even more asymmetric, and in this case a little metallic-sounding. The two calls probably intergrade. (three examples, with a whit and trill, edited from trill recording below, July, PA).

A quite common call is zweeoo, apparently used in nest defense, which has a resemblance to the Alder Flycatcher song, and could lead to confusion. Alder has a similar call, without the break (see below).
(May, PA)

(July, PA)

An uncommon call is an isolated bew not associated with fizz or fitz (preceded by other calls, June, PA).

Agitated pair near nest, with whit calls by one bird and a squeaky chatter by the other (June, PA).

reduced time scale

Another example of the chatter and other calls, between two males, including trills at 84 and 150s (June, PA).

Willow Flycatcher trill (both species give similar trills)

Calls by two Willow Flycatchers in close vicinity (presumably males as both sang), with interaction calls and numerous trills (with Gray Catbird, July, PA).

The common alarm call of the Alder Flycatcher sounds like the first note of the Olive-sided Flycatcher song. It never gives the whit call of Willow (July, ME).

Compare with the squeakier Willow Flycatcher pip (June, PA).

As with some other flycatchers, the Alder Flycatcher has quite a varied vocabulary:
The double-peaked call is commonly given, but apparently not diagnostic as the Willow Flycatcher has a similar but rarely heard call (July, ME).

Zweeoo, apparently associated with nest defense. Willow Flycatcher has a similar call but with a break in it (July, ME).

Compare with the same call of Willow (June, PA).

Weeoo recalls Acadian. Again, Willow has a similar call but rarely given (July, ME).

(July, ME).

This call monotonously repeated predawn by a presumed Alder Flycatcher appeared to be a song variant. It may be previously undescribed as it is not included in the exhaustive vocal repertoire described here (from which the call nomenclature is derived) (4.30am, July, ME)

Call-like vocalizations may be strung together in what sound like song variants, the so-called complex call (July, ME).

call at 13s

These longer sequences have been termed complex calls (July, ME).

The Least Flycatcher call is a whit, similar to Willow Flycatcher, but softer (May, PA).

(Sep, PA).

The Acadian Flycatcher has two commonly given calls, a descending pwer and a rising pweet.
"pwer" (May, PA)

In my experience, "pwer" is a call usually given by the female. This was a presumed female returning to nest with eggs (June, PA).

Another example of pwer with another call, a short trill (May, PA).

Two more examples, each a presumed female sitting on a nest, with different associated calls (June, DE)

(with a weet, weet, June, DE)

Pweet, note the subtle difference from pwer.
(sex unknown, May, PA)

Same call, by female building a nest. This call may be more of an alarm call.
(with Downy Woodpecker nestlings, June, DE)

Two birds calling (July, PA).

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. This call is similar to the Acadian Flycatcher pwer, but a little squeakier, and is commonly heard on the wintering grounds. (migrant, Sep, PA).

There is another call, "tuwee", heard more often on the breeding grounds, but also in migration, that sounds similar (but is shorter) to the pewee call of Eastern Wood-Pewee (June, MN).

See this Xeno-Canto discussion for more on these calls.

The chip call of the Eastern Phoebe is commonly heard. It is similar to the chip of the Swamp Sparrow, but a little softer (Apr, PA).

Calls made by male while fluttering at potential nest-site under a bridge (Apr, PA).

time scale reduced

This call was repeated over a period of at least ten minutes by an overwintering bird (Feb, NC).

Recently paired male calling in the vicinity of the female, "breep-it" (Apr, PA).

Another example (Mar, PA),

Interaction calls between two phoebes in aggressive interaction (Feb, NC)

Note piteer call at 13s

The Eastern Wood-Pewee has a surprisingly large repertoire of calls.
The pewee call is probably the one most often heard (June, NJ).

call at 6s

Eastern Wood-Pewee calling at dawn. This vocalization may be repeated over and over after sunset as a twilight song (June, NJ).

A longer version of the call (July, PA).

Squeaky interaction calls between two pewees (May, NJ).

Frequently heard is a soft chip (June, NJ)

Bill snapping and other calls by two birds interacting (with Tufted Titmouse scolding, June, NJ)


(June, NJ)

short call at 11s

part of long call starting at 18s

The common call of the Olive-sided Flycatcher is a repeated pip-pip-pip (July, ME).

Eastern Kingbird tzee contact calls (July, NJ).

A common call sequence is the tzee-chatter (May, RI).

zeer and tzee-chatter

Female calling in foreground and twittering, male calling zeer in background, after female had flown from incomplete nest to adjacent tree (May, RI).

zeer and tzee by female

zeer and tzee-chatter


Eastern Kingbird alarm calls, pair chasing a Blue Jay from nest vicinity (May, RI).

Great Crested Flycatchers have vocalizations that can be termed as calls or song depending on the delivery (see Flycatcher songs).
They also have calls that are used in interactions. The following were made by pairs of birds in flight or just landed, with one bird being chased by the other.
(July, PA)

(July, PA)

Quiet calls by interacting Great Crested Flycatchers (Northern Flicker calling in between, June, NJ).

Quiet calls by a vagrant Ash-throated Flycatcher (another call, a brrt, is more diagnostic, Dec, NJ).

No comments: