Bird songs Part 5: Describing Quality

Part 5 of my introduction to learning bird songs is now up (click here).

Many of the words that we use to describe the quality of a bird song also carry information about pitch and tempo. For example, only sounds in a certain pitch range can be described as whistled, and we tend to call lower-pitched whistles “rich” or “full”, and higher-pitched whistles ”thin” or “squeaky”. Similarly, certain descriptive words tell us about the tempo of the song. Words like relaxed and lethargic describe a slow tempo, and a buzz is just like a trill, only faster.
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Singing Prothonotary Warbler. Pencil sketch from the field in Arkansas, May 2005, copyright David Sibley.

5 thoughts on “Bird songs Part 5: Describing Quality”

  1. I am trying to find a bird that one place described as a Parsons Thrush, but I have not been able to find it among the many Thrushes I found online. I have heard it in the late spring here in Lincoln City, and before that in Sherwood, both in Oregon. I has a sense of a rolling, starting relatively lower and rising, capped off with a few chirps. I love the unusual sound of this bird, but am now struggling to hear it and I have nothing that has it recorded. Do you think you can help with this at all? Thank you. John D. Wild — Phone 503-310-3245

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