All a-twitter

No, not Donald Trump’s past-time, but the real twitter, with wings and beak etc. I may not have mentioned here that I have always had an interest in birds. Right from joining the Gould League of Bird Lovers in primary school, I’ve been alert to rustles in the bush and the sound of birds around me. I was over in Adelaide recently, and was hoping to see some Eastern Spinebills that enjoyed a particular bush in the garden where I was staying but alas – no sighting. And this week there has been news that the Scarlet Honeyeater has been seen in Melbourne gardens but not, unfortunately, in mine.

Scarlet Honeyeater

Scarlet Honeyeater. Image by Greg Miles Wikimedia Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gregbm/5449916547/ Scarlet Honeyeater

But what I did have in my garden, or nearby, was a bird that I couldn’t see but could hear as it made a repeating call like the first four notes from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. (And now you’re all humming the notes yourself, or scrabbling to look them up on Google, aren’t you?) I, too, looked up on Google to see if I could find ‘bird that sounds like Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ but without success.  What I needed was a Shazam for bird sounds, I decided, and it appears that there are some apps that claim to be just that.

When I read about the Scarlet Honeyeater, I thought “Aha! Perhaps that’s what I heard” and turned yet again to Professor Google to find the call of the Scarlet Honeyeater. Which is how I stumbled onto Graeme Chapman’s excellent site at http://www.graemechapman.com.au/index.php

What a wonderful resource! Beautiful pictures of birds and a huge sound library.  Was my Close Encounters bird (which obviously wasn’t close enough!) a pied butcherbird perhaps??  I suspect that Anthea might pop up in the comments and know exactly which bird I was hearing.

Later: And look! – IF it is a pied butcherbird, then the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is playing a special piece which incorporates its call. The composer, Hollis Taylor, describes the pied butcherbird as “perhaps the world’s finest songbird”.

3 responses to “All a-twitter

  1. My favourite bird books are those daggy old Gould League books which grouped the birds by environment. I have the whole set, and always took them on school camps, but Birds of South-eastern Australia – Urban Areas, and Birds of Oceans, Bays and Beaches are the ones I’ve used most. I like them because I can find the bird by its profile shape, and then confirm it by reading the other information.
    But no, although it describes the bird’s calls, I don’t think I ever came across one described by the music you mention!

  2. From what I read today about the Scarlet Honeyeater, we can’t trust bird distribution maps any more. Birds in the Backyard is another good online site.

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