FAMILY STURNIDAE



European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)


a. Song relatively quiet and disjointed: a mushy, gurgling, hissing chatter with high sliding whistles; often includes imitations of other birds' calls.  Example from northwest Oregon.


b. Common call a harsh chatter.


c. Flight call a muffled dry wrrsh.


[source:  D.A. Sibley, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, 2003, Alfred A. Knopf, N.Y.]




                       FAMILY EMBERIZIDAE



Orange-Crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)


a. A sharp stick (U).

    A sharp chip (L).

    A soft chit; somewhat thin and weak; has a more "liquid" quality than chip notes of other warblers in northwestern California.


b. A high, thin seet.


c. Song: a weak, colorless trill, dropping in energy at end. Often changes pitch rising, then dropping (P).

    Example 1, example 2.


Suggests Dark-eyed Junco song, except for quality of pitch-changing.



Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla)


a. A short, not very sharp, tonal chip; similar in quality to MacGillivray's note, but usually not as heavy; somewhat variable in volume; when agitated, notes may be confused with those of MacGillivray's.


b. Song: two-parted: seebit, seebit, seebit, seebit, titititititi (ends like Chipping Sparrow's song) (P,L).

   Second part sometimes omitted (R).

   Song in 2 parts, first higher and slower than second: see-it see-it see-it, ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti; frequently intersperses alternate variations of same notes with original song (F).

   A series of high-pitched see-weet notes followed by a lower short trill (N).

   Alternate descriptions: two song types discernable: 

(1) sweeta-sweeta-sweeta-sweeta-sweetsweetsweet, short, run-together notes at end, not buzzy;

(2) sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet-tewtewtewtew (second half faster).

   Also, ta-sweeta-sweeta-sweeta-chew, with variations.

    Song example 1, example 2.



Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)


a. A loud downslurred cheep (U).

    A sharp chip or chik (L).


b. Flight note, as in many wood warblers, a thin buzzy zeet (U).

    Slightly ascends in pitch.


c. Song: A cheerful, bright tsee-tsee-tsee-tsee-titi-wee, or weet weet weet weet tsee tsee, given rapidly. 

    Variable (P).

    About 7 clear sweet notes, second half slightly faster, typically with the final note slurred upward (R).

    Usually 3-4 well-spaced tseet-tseet-tseet notes followed by more rapid sitta-sitta-see; full song: tseet-tseet-tseet sitta-sitta-see (F).

    A clear, variable sweet sweet sweet I'm so sweet.



Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)


              Audubon's Race


a. A loud tchip (P,L).

    A sharp chip or chep (U).

    Chep, softer and less metallic than Myrtle's.

    A heavier chirp than other warblers (R. LeValley, pers. comm.).

    A short, sharp psht or vsht, quite distinct from other warblers in northwestern California; not as heavy as MacGillivray's, nor as "dry" (i.e., unmusical) as MacGillivray's or Nashville Warblers.


b. Song: Junco-like, but 2-parted, either rising or dropping in pitch: seet-seet-seet-seet-seet-trrrrrrr (P).

    Similar to, but richer than, that of the Yellow Warbler; a rising djeer, djeer, djeer, djeer, zwee-zwee-zwee-zwee (L).

    Sweeta-sweeta-sweeta-sweeta-sweetaleetaleet, not buzzy, usually rises in pitch or inflection over entire sequence and quickens pace toward the end (running the notes together).

    Song sometimes lacks final trill.


            Myrtle's Race


a. A check, different in timbre than Audubon's (P).

    A sharp chip or chep (U).

    Loud, distinct chip or tt.

    A tsip or tsup (L).


b. Song: very similar to Audubon's, a junco-like trill that either rises or falls in pitch at the end (P).

    A musical trill, elements vaguely doubled: tuwee-tuwee-tuwee or tyew-tyew-tyew, often changing to higher or lower pitch near end; during spring migration, disorganized warbling song (F).



Black-Throated Gray Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens)


a. A single sharp tsip, very cut off; two forms discernable: one almost identical to Hermit Warbler note, very sharp; the second, chip, a bit "duller" or more muffled, and slightly heavier than note of Hermit (in sound file below).

    Both call forms can be described as a dull chut, intermediate between the call notes of Yellow-Rumped and Townsend's Warblers.


b. Song: A buzzy chant: zeedle zeedle zeedle zeet che (next to last note highest) (P).

    A buzzy weezy weezy weezy weezy-weet, accented on last note.

    Pattern somewhat variable, but mostly very wheezy or buzzy quality throughout; "wheezier" than Hermit Warbler; typical northwestern California pattern: zeedle-zeedle-zeedle-zeedle-zeet-tzew-zeet-tzew; the "zeedles" introductory phrase very fast, often slurred together; the four last notes longer in duration, more distinct, with up-and-down pattern.

    Another description: teedle-teedle-teedle-teedle,tee-tedum, teedles increasing in volume; tedum may also be described as a buzzy dechew; tedum may also be replaced by teedle-eedle-eedle-eem.

    Songs:  version 1, version 2, version 3, version 4.



Hermit Warbler (Dendroica occidentalis)


a. A soft chup (U).

    A weak, non-buzzy chip or sharp tsip; very light; often sharper and lighter than Black-Throated Gray (see above); a bit "kissier."

    A sharp tsik, very much like that of Townsend's Warbler (F).


b. Also a whit (S. Harris, pers. comm.).


c. Song: three high lisping notes followed by 2 abrupt lower ones: sweety-sweety-sweety-chupchup or seedle-seedle-seedle-chupchup (P).

    Song, seezle seezle seezle seezle zeet-zeet (N).

    Pattern and cadence highly variable; closely resembles Black-throated Gray Warbler and Townsend's Warbler (though the latter, which breeds further north, is rarely heard singing in northwestern California).


Song has two general forms, a fast and a slow type:

    a) fast type, mostly buzzy, very similar to Black-Throated Gray Warbler's, typically with a fast introductory phrase, an accented note, and two lower ending notes:

       e.g., zeedle-zeedle-zeedle-zeedle-      zeet-      che-che

              ------------------------------     ------     --------

                                    1                              2             3

part 1 relatively fast, part 2 accented, highest pitch in song, and part 3 clearer tone, lower pitch; or, sometimes without middle accented note, as in teedle-teedle-teedle-teedle-chew-chew, the number of notes in each part of song varying somewhat.

    Fast songs: example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4.


    b) slow type, not as buzzy; that is, notes have a clearer tone in general; may be long or short in duration (sometimes only a portion heard); e.g., wheeto-wheeto-wheeto-wheetowhit, slightly faster, accented toward end; this type heard more commonly than fast type in northwestern California, but may variations of both may be heard.

    Slow songs: example 1, example 2, example 3.


Sometimes slow and fast song types alternate in same singing sequence.




Townsend's Warbler (Dendroica townsendi)


a. A single chit or tsip (L); almost identical to Hermit Warbler.


b. Song: Rarely heard singing in northwestern California (occurs only as migrant).

    Song most closely resembles Black-Throated Gray Warbler, although may also be confused with the Hermit Warbler (especially farther north in Oregon and Washington); pattern variable, but overall is high and wheezy (thinner quality than Black-Throated Gray Warbler's), of rising inflection throughout.

    Song similar to Black-Throated Gray Warbler's: dzeer dzeer dzeer tseetsee or wheezy, wheezy, seesee (P).

    3 or 4 notes similar in pitch, followed by 2 or more high-pitched sibilant notes (P).

    Song:  example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4.



MacGillivray's Warbler (Oporornis tolmiei)


a. A loud tik, sharper than most other western warblers (U).

    A dry, unmusical, loud ch; much heavier than other warblers in northwestern California.

    A loud husky tcheck (F).

    A sharp, thin tsik (N).

    Can vary in volume, but may carry 30-40 m or more.


b. Song: a rolling chiddle-chiddle-chiddle-turtle-turtle, or sweeter-sweeter-sweeter-sugar-sugar, voice dropping in pitch on last notes; also a chiddle-chiddle-chiddle-wick-wick (P).

    Second part of song often has single-note phrases: chu-weet chu-weet chu-weet chewp chewp (F).

    Song has 2 parts: a buzzy trill ending in a downslur (N).

    Song somewhat buzzy, very "liquid" sounding, seems to slide together; distinctly two-parted (second part faster): tshee, tshee, tshee, tshee, chew-chew; also seet seet seet seet, sweeta-sweeta-sweeta-sweeta.


c.  Partial songs are sung by immatures.



Wilson's Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla)


a. A soft timp (U).

    A tsw or chsw, like a sweet "kissing" sound; similar in quality to Winter Wren's notes, but a bit more tonal and almost never doubled.

    Carries up to 30-40 m.


b. Song: a thin rapid little chatter dropping in pitch at end: chichichichichichetchet (P).

    A series of short, descending, abruptly slurred notes (N).

    Distinct sharp notes discernable; accelerates toward end as well as dropping in pitch.



Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)


a. Single notes, such as whoit or kook, are distinctive.


b. Song is an amazing alternation of caws, whistles, grunts, and rattles, frequently given in flight and even at night; 12-28/min (R).

    Song, clear repeated whistles, alternated with harsh notes and soft crowlike caw's. Occasionally mimics. Suggests Mockingbird, but repertoire more limited; much longer pauses between phrases. Frequently sings at night (P).

    Unmusical song, a jumble of harsh, chattering clucks, rattles, clear whistles, and squawks. Male sings from conspicuous perch or as he hovers in brief display flight, legs dangling, wings beating slowly (N).



Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)


a. A double pi-tic or pit-i-tic (P).

    Dry pit-r-rick (U).

    Dry, sharp notes: chi-tr-dip or chi-tr-dic. In Klamath Mountains, typically a quick 3 syllables.

    Call version 1, version 2.


b. A clear pee, pee.


c. Juvenile or female: a very loud chee-lip, chee-lip; very forceful.

    Carries perhaps 150 m.


d. Song: short phrases, similar to Black-Headed Grosbeak's or American Robin's in form, but less sustained, hoarser (P).

    Like an American Robin's, but hoarser and much faster in tempo, as cheero-chee-wee, cheero, cheero, chee-wee (L).


In Klamath Mountains, tempos of songs of Western Tanager and American Robin can be similar; Tanager's is decidedly hoarser. Black-headed Grosbeak's is faster, longer, and more contiguous. Compare the songs.


Alternate song: Short phrases of 2-3 (slurred together) very buzzy notes, very fast cadence, in groups of 4-8, separated by pauses. Sometimes interspersed or prefixed by call notes (e.g., call a).


e. Calls and songs of juvenile are more abbreviated, less melodic, than that of adults, and can have a "wheezy" quality.