Redwood Forest Birds

LOUDBEAKS: these first 5 birds are easy, loud, must-knows for hiking or living in the redwoods! 

Pacific Wren
00:00 / 00:45

Fast bubbly song lasting 5-10 seconds, coming from low in the dense forest shrubbery.  There's really nothing else that sounds like this in the redwoods, a year-round pleasure.

Photos of the birds will be added into this space!

Wilson's Warbler
00:00 / 00:39

 A short series of sharp chirps dropping a bit in pitch at the end.  The only thing close in the redwoods is the Orange-crowned Warbler, below, but it's more of a trill than a series of chirps.  April to mid-summer, amazingly common in the right habitat, and a beauty. 

Varied Thrush
00:00 / 02:02

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, strongly April into mid-summer, an amazing treat.

Swainson's Thrush song
00:00 / 00:32

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.

Swainson's Thrush "weep"
00:00 / 00:32

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.

Song Sparrow
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This sparrow's song consists of phrases that start 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 but strong in April through July.  IF IT STARTS WITH THE SAME 2 OR 3 NOTES EVERY TIME, THINK SONG SPARROW!  They're thick around here!

These birds are also common songsters in the redwood forests in the spring and early summer.  Most of them aren't as consistently obvious as the Loudbeaks, but that depends on specific sub-habitats within those forests.  

Pacific-slope Flycatcher
00:00 / 00:14

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.

Wrentit
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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.  (This is a duet of 2 birds).

Northern Flicker "peah" call
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Their call is a repeated loud, clear "peah" note repeated a few seconds apart, or a faster repeated "wick-wicka-wicka" (next song down). Heard year-round.

Northern Flicker "wacka"
00:00 / 00:35

This is the Northern Flicker's "wacka-wacka-wacka" call, less commonly heard than that of the above "peah" call.  It's easily confused with the Pileated's call (see the next call and description). 

Pileated "wacka"
00:00 / 00:23

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 maybe with changing rhythm or emphasis."  

Pileated "drum"
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The Pileated Woodpeckers share their fast drumming cadence with several other woodpeckers.  Listening for an associated call and the "depth" of the beat can differentiate the birds.

Dark-eyed Junco
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Their song is generally a form of medium-speed, same-pitched trill coming from the brush.  One of the most common birds in HumCo, found in all types of habitat, year-round.  (They do make some other sounds, which will be posted at some point). 

Hermit Warbler "wine cork"
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Hermit Warbler "car start"
00:00 / 00:26

The Hermit Warbler's song is quite variable, and it unfortunately shares this song and variability with 2 close relatives, the Black-throated Gray Warbler and the Townsend's Warbler.  One song that they share is a squeaky, repeated phrase that sort of winds upwards and then pitches down. Think of a squeaky wine bottle cork, "seadle, seadle, seadle, zeet, zeet, zeet."  Their other common song vaguely reminds me of a car trying to start.  Spring and summer, the Hermits are extremely common in all of our closed-canopy conifer forests.  As you move inland, they share that habitat with the similar-sounding Black-throated Gray Warblers, although the Grays tend to gravitate to areas with oaks in the mix.  (And to really muddy the water, both of them share their song with the Townsend's Warbler as it passes though on its migrations).  

Orange-crowned Warbler
00:00 / 00:26

This bird's song can be remembered as a "jitterbug" for its fast, repeated trill.  They live in most of our brushy areas, including along streams and rivers, and can consequently be heard when hiking in the redwoods in the spring and summer.

Purple Finch
00:00 / 00:21

Their song is a short burst of bubbly warbles, repeated from near feeders or higher in the trees.  It's roughly similar to that of the Pacific Wren, but the finch usually sings from a high perch, whereas the wren sings from thick brush.  Heard in the spring and summer. 

Hutton's Vireo
00:00 / 00:22

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
00:00 / 00:42

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.    

Steller's Jay
00:00 / 00:21

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 the extent of their distribution.  

Gray Jay
00:00 / 00:16

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 high canopy and visiting the outskirts of towns and picnic areas in Redwood National Park, the Arcata Community Forest, and Sue-Meg State Park.   

Chestnut-backed Chickadee
00:00 / 00:22

Lots of noisy "chips" of various pitches, mixed with a "gruff, rapid "tseek-a-dee-dee."  Love to work bird feeders for seeds and search through alder branches for insects, year-round, throughout HumCo. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet
00:00 / 00:16
Violet-green Swallow
00:00 / 00:16

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.

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.

Barred Owl
00:00 / 00:43

Barred Owls calls are described as sounding like "who cooks for you - who cooks for you" with 8 syllables, and share the classic "owl" type sound with the Spotted and Great Horned Owls (only 4 or 5 syllables).  They first arrived in HumCo in 1981, and have since been rapidly replacing the Spotted Owls in their preferred habitat of deep forests 

Northern Pygmy-Owl
00:00 / 00:35

This 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 that of the Saw-whet and Screech Owls, but he Saw-whet Owl isn't common in the redwood forest and sings at night, whereas the Screech Owl, which is common in redwoods, has a "bouncing ball" cadence (below).

Western Screech-Owl
00:00 / 00:56

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.

Great Horned and Spotted Owls: I currently don't have recordings of either of these birds.  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 that can rise in pitch, "hoot…who-who…hoooo."  Both can be heard in redwood forests.

Marbled Murrulets
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Marbled Murrulets are to be heard as they leave their sleeping/egg-laying limbs, found almost exclusively in old-growth redwood forests, to spend the day hunting fish at sea.  Hearing these ocean birds is a slightly disconcerting sound when you're miles from the ocean!  (Their egg-laying locations were the last ones to be identified out of all the "regular breeding" birds in North America, when a tree-trimmer found a chick in a tree near Santa Cruz in 1974....secretive, fast, and non-intuitive!)