Thanks John and Rick (and all those who wrote to me privately) for the feedback :-).
The possibility of using spectrograms as a tracking tool for ID'ing individual birds has become very intriguing to me. For example, if it becomes established that adult Henslow's Sparrows only have one song in their repertoire that never changes, and *IF* it turns out that its own song is unique, like a fingerprint, then if the same spectrogram is recorded elsewhere, one could possibly assume it was the same individual. This line of reasoning had me return just now to the eBird database and review the most recent audio files for 2018, hoping that I might find the 2017 Shawangunk bird represented somewhere in their treasure trove. The result is that I came across this eBird checklist from Centre County Pennsylvania on 25 May 2018 that contains an audio file of a Henslow's. Its spectrogram appears to match the spectrogram of last year's Henslow's seen at Shawangunk: Here's the Pennsylvania bird ( 25 May 2018): https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46124750 Here's one of the recordings of the New York bird (27 May 2017): https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S37188198 Do folks agree that the spectrograms and recordings look and sound fairly similar? I am cc'ing Nathan Pieplow on this, but he's based in Colorado and may not subscribe to this list. If his reply appears off-list, I will post it. Karen Fung NYC On Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 2:45 PM, JOHN TURNER <redk...@optonline.net> wrote: > I totally agree with Rick. > > > > On Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 07:51 PM, rc...@nyc.rr.com wrote: > > Karen: Don’t confuse lack of interest with folks not having enough > expertise on the topic to feel they are qualified to contribute to the > discussion (e.g., me). I for, one, was fascinated, and look forward to > further developments. > > > > Rick Cech > > > > P.S. Also add kudos for the fine tern id discussion, Joe, Shai & others. > We’re fortunate to have individuals in the community with such depths of > insight and experience. > > > > *From:* bounce-122638804-3714...@list.cornell.edu < > bounce-122638804-3714...@list.cornell.edu> *On Behalf Of *Karen Fung > *Sent:* Thursday, June 14, 2018 2:46 PM > *To:* nysbirds-L@cornell.edu > *Subject:* [nysbirds-l] Henslows Sparrow redux: Shawangunk Grasslands, > NWR (Ulster County) > > > > Hi All, > > A few weeks ago, I posted a query to the list, noting that this year's > Henslow's Sparrow at Shawangunk is singing a different song compared to the > single song recorded by multiple observers last year, and wondering if that > was enough of an indication that this year's bird is a different > individual. That post did not really elicit much interest, based on the > little feedback I received. > > > > Since then, I wrote to a few people directly, including Nathan Pieplow, > whose book, "Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North > America", was published last year. Am including my direct query to him. > Nathan agrees that this year's bird is almost certainly a different > individual, and he gave me permission to post his reply, which you will see > below. > > > > For those interested, the screen shot of the spectrograms that I sent to > him is now online on my website, in this gallery. You can see from the > screen shot that the first four spectrograms show a "Mi-Re-Do" sequence of > notes, and they are all from this year's bird. The remaining spectrograms > show a "Mi-Do-Re" type sequence of notes. Both three syllable "songs", just > a different sequence of sounds. > > > > https://www.birdsiviews.com/Henslows-Sparrow-Shawangunk-Grasslands/ > > > > If you want to see and play back the entire eBird collection of > spectrograms and audio files for both Shawangunk birds, the link is here: > > > > https://ebird.org/media/catalog?taxonCode=henspa& > mediaType=a®ion=Ulster,%20New%20York,%20United% > 20States%20(US)®ionCode=US-NY-111&q=Henslow%27s% > 20Sparrow%20-%20Ammodramus%20henslowii > > > > Nathan's reply and my query to him follow here. > > > > -------------- > > > > Karen, > > > > Thanks for the email! I'm very glad you like my book. We need to get more > people using it! > > > > I'm about as certain as I can be that the 2018 bird is a different > individual than the 2017 bird. Here's why: > > · Henslow's is a poorly studied species. But in the research for my > book, I never found a documented case of an individual Henslow's switching > songtypes on a recording. > > · You've got a pretty good sample size of recordings here. I went > through all the 2018 recordings and every rendition is identical. I didn't > go through all the 2017 recordings but in my sample, they were all > identical to each other and different from the 2018 bird. > > · All the 2017 and 2018 recordings in your sample are stereotyped, not > plastic. This basically ensures the recordings come from adult birds. It > has been shown in many passerine species that once birds are adults, they > cannot learn new songs. A few birds have been shown to break this rule > (like Northern Mockingbird), but it would be a surprise for Henslow's > Sparrow. > > · The 2017 and 2018 songs differ in many details -- one is not merely a > truncation of the other. > > This is actually a pretty good test case for the number of songtypes per > individual Henslow's Sparrow. If birders visit the same bird many times > over the course of a season and never document any song variation, it's > very good evidence that each individual has a single songtype. Plus, it > happens to fit with the little we know about song in Henslow's, and a great > deal that we know about song in passerines in general. > > > > So, I'd say you have a new bird this year. > > > > > > Nathan > > > > On Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 3:59 AM, Karen Fung <easternblueb...@gmail.com > > wrote: > > Dear Nathan, > > I very much enjoyed your presentation at the Linnaean Society (NY) last > year, and bought your book as soon as it came out. I grew up playing the > piano as a hobby, so am used to seeing sounds presented in visual form. > Spectrograms are a great aid in learning bird song! > > > > Anyway, I'm writing to hopefully get your thoughts on whether you think > the male Henslow's Sparrow that is currently singing at Shawangunk > Grasslands NWR (NY: Ulster County) is a different bird from last year's > since its spectrogram is slightly different. See below for part of an > email that I sent to local birders. Was told that Henslow's hasn't nested > at Shawungunk in maybe 30 years, and that last year's sighting was the > first one documented in recent memory. That alone made some folks think > that the current bird had to be the same one as last year's due to its > rarity. Last year it was around for maybe ten days, singing incessantly. > This year it also sings non-stop, but the sequence of notes is different. > This year it has a mate, so could it be singing a different song just based > on that fact? Your book seemed to indicate that Henslow's only has one > song in its repertoire.. but could it have modulated its song between > seasons?. Some birders agree that it is likely to be a different bird, > based on its different song, plus its plumage appears to be paler this year > (but I'm not sure how to evaluate plumage if the bird has molted). > > > > Any thoughts would be appreciated. The attached screen shot was taken a > few days ago. The link to the eBird data for the audio files is below. > > > > Best Wishes, > > Karen Fung > > Manhattan > > > > > > > > -- > > *NYSbirds-L List Info:* > > Welcome and Basics <http://www.northeastbirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm> > > Rules and Information <http://www.northeastbirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm> > > Subscribe, Configuration and Leave > <http://www.northeastbirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm> > > *Archives:* > > The Mail Archive > <http://email@example.com/maillist.html> > > Surfbirds <http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L> > > ABA <http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01> > > *Please submit your observations to **eBird* > <http://ebird.org/content/ebird/>*!* > > -- > -- > *NYSbirds-L List Info:* > Welcome and Basics <http://www.northeastbirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm> > Rules and Information <http://www.northeastbirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm> > Subscribe, Configuration and Leave > <http://www.northeastbirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm> > *Archives:* > The Mail Archive > <http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html> > Surfbirds <http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L> > ABA <http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01> > *Please submit your observations to **eBird* > <http://ebird.org/content/ebird/>*!* > -- > > -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --