Over the winter and into the spring, I studied bird call notes. I am quite a ways off perfecting this skillset but I’m enjoying a growing familiarity with contact calls/alarm notes. Learning call notes really helps to hone in on birds of interest while waking through the woods, most esp. in fall when birds are largely silent other than chips and tweets, etc. I heard two yesterday that baffled me; one that I heard I was able to ID the third time I heard it: Mourning Warbler and one that I couldn’t place. The bird was deep in the bush and had been stirred to an agitated state by some ‘pishing’. I stayed quiet as not to encourage into view just yet….a few seconds more, no ID…no idea. I let out a series of pishes and in flies a Scarlet Tanager! The call was a forceful chup; like a slightly crisper and more emphatic Yellow-rumped Warbler call. Scarlet Tanagers are throaty birds and I envisioned this note swelling in the throat and ‘ejecting’ from a hint of an opening to the bill.
Photo: I was forced to decide on either recording the call or taking this photo…I chose the photo (my best ever pic of a Scarlet Tanager and for this non-photographer, as good as it may ever get!) and, to be honest, it appears I captured the bird at the moment it was ‘chupping.’
An example of the call. This is essentially identical to the call I heard, so I was very pleased to find this sample: http://www.xeno-canto.org/87763