Who’s Singing Now?

Male house finch (photo by Cris Hamilton)

21 March 2021

When the big waves of migrating songbirds arrive in April and May we will be swamped with birdsong too numerous to list. That hasn’t happened yet so I can still tell you a few birds we’re hearing this week in Pittsburgh.

House finches (Haemorhous mexicanus), show at top, have been singing for a couple of weeks. The males prefer to sing close to their potential nest so it’s a good place to watch for a drab female house finch. The recording below begins with finchy call notes and changes to song.

Did you know … ?

Though common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) nest communally the males always challenge each other to win a favorite lady. You’ll see them puff their feathers and hear them “skrink!”

Male common grackle puffing and calling, Toronto (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) returned to urban Pittsburgh this month and are claiming their favorite territories with mimicked songs. Though he sounds like a lot of other birds you can identify a mockingbird because he repeats the same tune three+ times before he changes.

Northern mockingbird (photo by Cris Hamilton)

Did you know … ?

(photos by Cris Hamilton and from Wikimedia Commons)

3 thoughts on “Who’s Singing Now?

  1. Hi Kate. Can you tell me which of these songbirds are seed eaters? I know we’ve seen finches at the bird feeder, and maybe a mockingbird. Should I continue to fill the feeder? (I’ve taken down the suet because the grackles mobbed it and scared the others away.)

    1. All three will come to feeders. House finches are definitely seed eaters. Grackles eat many things including seeds. Mockingbirds visit because they are curious.

  2. Neko Case Lyrics for
    “Magpie To The Morning”

    Magpie comes a-calling, drops a marble from the sky,
    Tin roof sounds alarming, wake up child,
    Let this be a warning, says the magpie to the morning,
    Don’t let this fading summer pass you by,
    Don’t let this fading summer pass you by,

    Black hands held so high,
    The vulture wheels and dives,
    Something on the thermals yanked his chain,
    He smelled your boring apex,
    Rotting on the train tracks,
    He laughed under his breath because you thought that you could outrun sorrow,

    Take your own advice,
    This thundering and lightning gets you rain,
    You run an airtight mission, a Cousteau expedition,
    to find a diamond at the bottom of the drain,
    A diamond at the bottom of the drain,

    (Here I go)
    Mockingbird sings in the middle of the night,
    All his songs are stolen so he hides,
    He stole them out from whiporwills,
    And screaming car alarms,
    He sings them for you special,
    He knows you’re afraid of the dark,

    Come on, sorrow, take your own advice,
    Hide under the bed, turn out the light,
    Stars this night in the sky are ringing out,
    You can almost hear them saying,
    Close your eyes now kid,
    Close your eyes now kid,
    Morning’s teeth are lit,
    They are waiting,
    They are waiting.

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