Field guides to birds typically include a mnemonic which can be used to identify and learn the songs of individual species. The song of the Common Yellowthroat (pictured above near his nest by the community garden), is often described in modern guides with the mnemonic "witchety, witchety, witchety!" Many older guides, such as Ferdinand Schuyler Matthews' Field Book of Wild Birds and Their Music (1909), describe the song as "witchery, witchery, witchery!" Mathews also suggests the possibility of "Witch-way-sir, Witch-way-sir, Witch-way-sir." Our favorite interpretation of the song comes in a 1837 journal entry from Ralph Waldo Emerson who describes a Yellowthroat which "pipes to me all day long" with the song: "Extacy, Extacy, Extacy!"
What do you think? Here's a recording of a Common Yellowthroat singing near Lot 15 last summer.
In honor of the Barred Owls which have been seen on campus late last year, we are featuring a research article on the call of this species which was published early in her career by our friend and colleague, Dr. Pam Freeman.
The article, "Identification of Individual Barred Owls Using Spectogram Analysis and Auditory Cues" appeared in the June 2000 issue of Journal of Raptor Research. (The painting of a Peregrine Falcon on this particular issue is by Brian K. Wheeler.)
Photo of Red-bellied Woodpecker courtesy of Laura Erickson.
On June 2, 2019, we had our first record of a Red-bellied Woodpecker which was seen and heard in the Gethsemane Cemetery. In this brief recording, you can hear the woodpecker's shrill call along with the tolling of the chapel bell. The species has been seen and heard on campus several times since.
Recording of Red-bellied Woodpecker, Gethsemane Cemetery, June 2, 2019.
The appearance of Eastern Bluebird on our species list is of special interest since we know that it once nested here. Our friend, Laura Erickson, has noted on several occasions that the species could be found nesting in areas where we now have parking lots on campus. In recent years, the species has only been seen during migration. This photograph was taken in fall 2020 when a small flock of bluebirds was seen briefly in front of Tower Hall.