After listening carefully to Pine Siskins this year to pick out the calls of other species (see my earlier post) I have run across several other mimics. In early June in Arlington, Massachusetts I heard a remarkable American Goldfinch song that incorporated several phrases of a Song Sparrow song along with Northern Flicker and I suspect other species were being copied but I couldn’t pick them out. This is the first time I’ve heard an American Goldfinch that included copies of other species in its song, and these were very clear and obvious copies, but as Dan Lane pointed out in comments on my previous Siskin post American Goldfinch seems to be exceptional – the one American member of the genus that does not copy. Apparently they do, at least occasionally.
I should point out a very interesting new blog by Nathan Pieplow about bird vocalizations, with a comment on the Pine Siskin issue here, and lots of other good stuff. And another blog about bird voices by Paul Driver, with a recent post about Mimicry here.
McGraw, Kevin J. and Alex L. Middleton. 2009. American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/080