House sparrow - very common resident, loves bushes near buildings
- Song is a series of
- Calls a slightly
metallic "cheep, chirrup."
- Also a very rapid
series of cheeps in aggressive interactions with other House sparrows.
- Song becomes common
Northern Cardinal - common resident, likes residential area with
vegetation, bushes with berries. Only recently, during 1940's, has this
species moved north into our area. Many think that this species is now
common because of the growth of the suburbs and the typical plantings and
Song is a series of clear whistles, the first (usually 3) down-slurred,
and ending in a slow trill. "Cheer, cheer, cheer, what, what, what,
what." (The series of "whats" is often given rapidly.)
Call a sharp "chip." Calls are often given between males and females
staying in contact
One of the first birds to sing in the morning, and to move around
chipping loudly at sundown.
will also give a rapid series of chips (warning to other cardinal family
members?) when people approach.
First songs usually heard on sunny mornings in February.
White-throated sparrow - common winter resident, breeds in the
Catskills and north.
- Song is a slow
series of usually five clear whistles that changes pitch once, on either
the second or third note
- Often described as
"Old Sam Peabody" or "Oh Sweet Canada."
- Its call note is a
distinctive "tseep." (I (DP) do not think it is as distinctive as other
- Sings when it first
arrives (in October), picks up again on sunny mornings in February,
reaches a peak just before they leave for their breeding grounds in
Black-capped Chickadee - common resident.
- Song (love song):
two or three notes whistled, with first higher in pitch, "fee-bee-ee."
- Call: suggests name
"chick-a-dee-dee." And a variety of other calls; chick-a-dee, and
dee-dee-dee and tslick-dee.
- This species makes
lots of calls all year, the love song is first heard on sunny mornings
in spring, and last heard during the summer.
Tufted Titmouse - common resident, but another recent arrival
(like the Cardinal) to our area. Strangely this species is still absent
along the coast.
Song is a loud, whistled "peter, peter, peter, peter."
- Call a scratchy,
- Also gives many
fussy, scolding and very high pitched notes.
House Finch - common resident. This bird is native to the west
coast of North America. About two dozen were brought to local pet
stores. When the shop keepers were notified that it was illegal to keep
native species, they just opened the cages and released them in our area.
Their populations exploded throughout the Northeast during the 40's to
90's. In the 90's the genetically undiversified populations in the east
were hard hit by a bacterial infection. They are recovering well now and
do well in the suburbs. They range now from Florida to Nova Scotia and
west beyond Chicago. All resulting from a few dozen released in New York
- Song is a hoarse
warble that goes up and down rapidly.
- Call note a sharp
"cheep." It is a challenge to distinguish the "cheeps" of the
House Finch from the "cheeps" of the House sparrow.
Carolina Wren - common resident. This is a new common resident.
Even as little as 10 years ago, you could not count on hearing one even if
you visited the proper habitat 10 times a year. This species may be a
winner in our area due to global warming. It does not survive well in
harsh winters. It seems to have survived the last 10 relatively warm
winters with little or no crash in population, allowing a gradual growth
in population. It likes suburbia, but needs a little more wooded setting
then the house sparrow or house finch.
Song a loud, repeated series of several whistled notes: "tea-kettle,
- Calls include a
loud chatter and a rising and falling "cheer." This last call is often
given before a singing bout.
- Can be heard
singing every month of the year, (may defend winter territory by
singing) but picks up singing in February and March.
- It likes to nest in
weird (to us) places near houses.
Northern Mockingbird - common resident. This is also a
relatively new resident of our area. Populations became established
back in the 1940's, (again!), and may be another beneficiary of
- Song is a
series of varied phrases, with each phrase repeated 3 or more
times in a row.
- It often
includes much mimicry of other bird songs and calls. Once you
know your bird song you can sit and listen to a Mockingbird and
identify each bird it is imitating.
- Call a harsh
- Often defends a
winter territory different from breeding territory.
- Really likes a
patch of rose bushes, full of rose hips (berries) for a winter
territory. Woe to a single Robin, hermit thrush or Waxwing that stops
by and tries to steal a few of its berries. But the Mocker can be
overwhelmed by a flock of Robins or Waxwings that settle in to strip
every berry from its berry patch. More than once I've seen a Mocker put
up a valiant battle for an hour or two, then see that it is a losing
proposition, and retire to a sheltered location to sit and sulk over the
loss of hundreds of berries that it had been guarding carefully for
Blue Jay - common resident, but may leave the area in winters when
the acorn crop fails, as in the winter of 2004-2005.
- Bird is currently
uncommon in the woods, much more common in human impacted environments
with feeders or other human dispersed food sources.
- Very vocal; make a
large variety of calls. Most frequent call is a harsh "jeer" or "Jay."
- Also clear whistled
notes and gurgling sounds.
- Will often imitate
calls from hawks.
- Rather social and
group of these Jays can make quite a racket! Young from previous
years assist parents with new babies.
American Crow - common resident. But not as common as it was 10
years ago. It has been heavily impacted by the West Nile Virus, and the
new regulations closing the open dumping of human garbage.
- Common call is a
- Also a variety of
rattles, coos, and clear notes.
- A very intelligent
and social bird. Many of its calls are communications to other crows in
- It will form large
winter roosts with thousands of crows.
- It will form
impromptu groups to harass owls or hawks in their neighborhoods.
- Sometimes forms
large noisy groups for no apparent reason.
American Robin - common resident - summer and winter.
- The classic "first
Robin of spring" does not really exist. Robins over-winter in our area
almost every year - mostly males, with most females migrating south.
- In winter, Robins
do not frequent the open lawns looking for worms (or they would starve
to death). They often form sizable flocks, roost in wetlands, and
forage as a group in search of fruits or berries, and then move on.
- Song a musical
whistled phrase, "cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up."
- Call note a sharp "chup,"
often given in rapid series when disturbed.
- Also a very
high-pitched thin whistling note.
Funny, I (DP) do not recall this
high-pitched whistling note, I will have to listen for it
even I am not
too old to hear new things, yet!