I was stumbling around in the dark an hour before sunrise, setting up the SASS and stringing the mic cable back to the blind (my truck in this case)—it was 5AM.
I got the recorder up and running, set a pleasing level that I assumed would keep close-by birds from distorting once they woke up.
All was quiet, I waited for the first sounds. Shortly, Barred Owls called in the distance, then Whip-poor-wills started farther away and moved closer. Once they land they make clucking sounds, pwip . . . pwip . . . pwip, before they sing. I had never heard this before. In the recording below, you can hear five pwips before he starts to sing.
Whip-poor-will pwips and song. Sleepy Creek WMA, Berkeley County, WV. April 23, 2010. ©Wil Hershberger.
After the sun was coming up and the Whip-poor-wills had ceased singing, American crows, Eastern Tufted Titmice, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Eastern Towhees were ramping up. All of the sudden something strange started making soft piping notes near the mics. I couldn’t imagine what could be out there, in the thicket beyond the SASS, that was making these wild sounds—almost tropical sounding. There are hints that it could be a Blue Jay as there are several squeaky sounds that are typical for Blue Jays. I couldn’t see this songster, it was hidden from view by the distance and leafing out vegetation.
What do you think? (Listen carefully—we’re referring to the resonant, musical purps or pops that occur here and there in the recording).
Mysterious bird sound from Sleepy Creek WMA, Berkeley County, WV. April 23, 2010. ©Wil Hershberger.