Pitch, and bird song identification

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Pitch is simply our perception of the frequency (or wavelength) of a sound, which we describe as high to low. Birds’ range of hearing is similar to our own, and bird song covers the full range to the limits of human hearing, from the lowest hooting sounds of Great Gray Owl or Spruce Grouse to the highest songs of Blackburnian Warbler or Golden-crowned Kinglet.

Most bird vocalizations are complex, and cover a wide range of frequencies, and there is often considerable variation in pitch within a species, making it hard to use pitch alone as an identification clue. Even so, the actual pitch of a bird sound is useful for getting into the right “ballpark” for identification.

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