Greenwood Hts, Freshwater, Jacoby Creek, etc
LOUDBEAKS: these first 7 birds are easy, loud, in-you-ear singers in our mixed forest / residential areas in the spring and summer!
These birds are thick in summertime coastal residential areas, singing their lungs out in urban areas, getting more sparse as the residential mix trends towards forests from brushy areas. Well-known for repeating the same short phrase endlessly in the spring and summer, their song almost always starts with a single long note followed by a short burst of buzzy trills.
Photos of the birds will be added into this space!
Their song almost always starts with 2 or 3 repetitions of the same note, followed closely by a fast, varied trill, "Madge-Madge-Madge, put-on-your-tea-kettle-ettle-ettle." Year-round residents but strong singers April through July. RULE OF THUMB: IF IT STARTS WITH THE SAME NOTE REPEATED 2 OR 3 TIMES, IT'S ALMOST CERTAINLY A SONG SPARROW!
The "cheep cheep" of its location call goes on all year while it's hunting food in the brush, and after late July, it no longer sings until next year's breeding season. That leaves us to enjoy this call, imagining April rolling around again with this and all the other birds' mate attraction/territorial sounds firing back up.
This junco's song is generally a form of medium-speed, same-pitched trill coming from the brush, although they do have other, less-obvious vocalizations, especially when interacting. One of the most common birds in HumCo, found in all types of habitat, year-round.
Lots of noisy "chips" of various pitches, mixed with a "gruff, rapid "tseek-a-dee-dee." They love to work bird feeders for seeds and search through alder branches for insects, year-round, throughout HumCo.
A short series of sharp chirps dropping in pitch at the end. The only thing close in the brushy areas is the Orange-crowned Warbler, found below, but that warbler has more of a trill than a series of chirps. April to mid-summer, amazingly common in the right habitat, and a flash of beauty across open spaces.
The song is series of short single notes like a coach's whistle, each one separated by a couple-to-few seconds, but with each note being a different pitch. January occasional, then strongly April into mid-summer, an amazing treat.
A song of ethereal, fluting musical notes strung together in short, unchanging phrases, with the notes trending upward in pitch, and a few second pause between phrases. May to July, a perfect match for foggy redwoods, and is many folks' favorite singer.
This is the Swainson's call AND song. When they first arrive from Central America in early May, they mostly just make the call, mixing in the song later in the month.
These birds are also common in the redwoods / fields / yards mix, but generally aren't as consistently obvious as the Loudbeaks. Once you tune into them, however, you'll hear the residents regularly all year, and the migrants in the spring and early summer.
I call this a "reverse wolf whistle," repeated after pauses from high in the trees. Once tuned into them, you'll realize that they're extremely common here in the spring and summer.
The Wrentit's song is a short phrase of the same, fast notes that speed up as the phrase continues. I compare it to a bouncing ping pong ball, heard in almost all of our habitats year-round.
Their song is a short burst of bubbly warbles, repeated from near feeders or higher in the trees. The song is roughly similar to that of the Pacific Wren, but the finch usually sings from a high perch, whereas the wren sings from thick brush. Incredibly common in the spring and summer, easily confused with the House Finch, below.
The House Finch's song is a series of warbled notes, often with a buzzy "zeeee" at the end or mixed into the phrase. It's generally delivered at a slower pace than that of the Purple Finch, its more country cousin.
The Black Phoebe's "song" is a sharp, repeated "tutseer", repeated from its various favorite perches as it watches for insects, going after them in quick swoops year-round, usually near water. (Although there was a nesting pair for years in back parking lot of Eureka High School.
This towhee is a year-round resident of HumCo, but many of them overwinter near the coast, moving further inland in April to breed in dry, brushy areas. During winter, this is the grating chatter it makes while scratching around in the brush.
Steller's Jays are the familiar, noisy guards of all habitats in HumCo that contain conifers, including the urban areas. They're 2nd only to ravens in their wide distribution in our county.
Gray Jays' whistling calls sound nothing like that of their cousin, the Steller's Jay, and are randomly dispersed along the coast, breeding in forests with a high canopy and visiting the outskirts of towns and picnic areas in Redwood National Park, the Arcata Community Forest, and Sue-Meg State Park.
Fast bubbly song lasting 5-10 seconds, coming from low in the dense forest shrubbery, especially near creeks. There's really nothing else that sounds like this in the redwoods, a year-round pleasure.
The Hermit Warblers' song is highly variable, ranging from a squeaky, repeated phrase that sort of winds upwards and then pitches down, like a squeaky wine bottle cork. The other main variation reminds me vaguely of a car trying to start. Spring and summer, these are super common in the 2nd growth redwoods along the coast, singing from high in the trees. (Further inland, out of the fog belt, the songs of the Black-throated Gray Warbler and the Townsend's Warbler can be indistinguishable from this bird's song. Bird ID apps and expert birders also struggle with them....good luck!)
The Orange-crowned Warbler's song can be remembered as a "jitterbug" for its fast, repeated trill. They live along the streams and rivers, and can consequently be heard when hiking in the redwoods in the spring and summer.
This vireo's call is a very repetitious single-note whistle that can either rise or fall in pitch. (I've pasted examples of both together in this recording). They live everywhere in HumCo, year-round, where they prefer a closed forest canopy.
Pine Siskins' calls and songs are a buzzy, chattery mess. The thin, questioning, rising call will get your attention as a siskin, the breeding spring song a staccato muttering, and the large flocks in winter as they blast between alders is a cacophony. Most commonly found in the coast redwoods and fir/tanoaks inland, they can show up in other habitats, also.
This swallow's high-pitched calls are common over much of HumCo, in the forests, towns, around cliffs, and even the treeless bottoms when old buildings are present. They're insectivores, of course, and so are present only in our summers.
The American Robin's song consists of a series of slow, rich, rolling notes delivered from a tree top: "cheer-up, cheerily, cheer-up, cheerily." This standard perch is so high up that few people actually recognize its song(!), assuming that the robin sticks with the familiar chirping as it hunts worms in yards.
The Band-tailed Pigeon is our native pigeon, the Rock (City) Pigeon having been introduced from Europe long ago. They have a great "song", and I'll confess to having assumed was from our local doves....I only discovered the true singer recently (6/20/22!) when it was in the background of a bird mix recording that I ran by Merlin. Felt pretty dumb. Sorry, cool fat birds!
Mourning Doves live in our towns, grass/farmlands, and the residential areas mixed with redwoods, and their well-known "mournful" 4 or 5-note song fits well with their mellow demeanor. (I grew up thinking that they were "morning" doves, and struggled with the name on the hot muggy afternoons of my childhood summers in Pocahontas, Arkansas.) (And notice the other type of dove in the next box that's making inroads into Humboldt, with it's slightly different song.)
Eurasian Collared-Doves first appeared here in 2004 after being introduced to The Bahamas in 1974 (and reaching Alaska and New England in 30 years)! It's song has only 3 notes and is lower pitched than the Mourning Dove's. (The bird itself is lighter colored and has a black collar on the nape of its neck).
This grosbeak's song is very similar to the robin's song, and is also delivered from the treetops. It has been described as sounding "like a robin on speed"....the warbling is sped up a bit, and generally covers more notes. They're very common here in the spring and summer, singing away in brushy woodlands, forest edges, and river bottoms.
This hummer is a common sound around hummingbird feeders and is common across much of the county. It surprises most people to find out that they live here year-round, feeding on sap and flying or spiderweb-bound insects.
Quail calls are very distinctive, described by some as a slow, "chi-ca-go chi-ca-go". They live all over HumCo, year-round, in places with brush and open areas in which to hide and forage.
This tiny bird sticks to the treetops and is difficult to spot, but once you tune into its distinctive song, you realize that they're thick in our redwood and spruce forests along the coast, and less so in the Douglas-fir and white fir forests forests higher up. It's song's distinctive feature is the very thin, high pitch, climbing a few notes and then bouncing back down, a pleasure to hear.
Their call is a repeated loud, clear "peah" note repeated a few seconds apart, or a faster repeated "wacka-wacka-wacka" (next song down). Heard year-round.
This is the flicker's "wacka-wacka-wacka" call, less commonly heard that the above "peah" call. It's easily confused with that of the Pileated Woodpecker...see the next call and description.
This is the call of our largest woodpecker (in NAmerica!), a magnificent beast. The call can be confused with another of our woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker, but the Pileated's call is "more resonant, less even in tone, and with changing rhythm or emphasis."
The Pileateds share their fast drumming cadence with several other woodpeckers, so listening for an associated call and the "depth" of the beat will help differentiate the birds.
This slow, steady "beeping" song is usually heard in the early morning or late evening, and has been compared to the warning sounds of a truck backing up. The beeping can be confused with the beeping songs of both the Saw-whet and Screech Owls. The Saw-whet Owl's faster beeps are only heard at night, winter into May, whereas the Screech Owl's night song has a "bouncing ball" cadence (below) and sings later into summer.
These owls sing at night, and their "bouncing ball" cadence is distinctive. A pair of them will trade the phrase back and forth, making for a memorable nighttime experience.
The Saw-whet's medium-fast "beeping" songs are generally heard in patchy, inland habitat of regenerating clearcuts and in the mixed second-growth redwoods along the coast, only at night, winter to late spring.
Barred Owls' calls are described as sounding like "who cooks for you, who cooks for you" (8 syllables) and share the classic "owl" type sound with the Spotted and Great Horned Owls (both with only 4 syllables). They first arrived in HumCo in 1981, and have since been rapidly replacing the Spotted Owls in their preferred habitat of deep forests
Great Horned and Spotted Owls: I currently don't have recordings of either of these owls. The Great Horned Owl's call is the classic, deep "who-who, who, whoooo" (4 or 5 syllables), while one of the Spotted Owl's calls is a series of less "deep" hoots : "hoot…who-who…hoooo." Both can be heard in redwood forests.
Juvenile Cooper's Hawks make these kind of squeaky, wheezy calls as they're fledging...hanging out waiting for the parents to bring small birds or mammals for dinner (thanks to Joanie Weiser and Frank Gratz for the contact!). They're found all over Humboldt except for thick, undifferentiated forests, and there's a good chance that the birds at your feeder know them well.
Red-shouldered Hawks, both juvies and adults, make this call. This pair showed up in our redwood treetops about fledging time, we've never seen them here before, and so I'm guessing it's a parent and offspring out exploring. They generally prefer forest edges along the coast, and are often seen peering down from the electrical wires and fence posts on Myrtle Avenue between Eureka and 3 Corners Market.