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Excerpts From an Evening Chorus
In early July, I spent an evening at Brainard Lake Recreation Area recording the natural sounds I encountered. I stopped first at Mitchell Creek to record the gush of meltwater flowing into Brainard Lake. After being chased away by mosquitos, I hiked deeper into the valley, stopping in meadows and along trails to capture the evening chatter of birds.
The acoustics in the Brainard Lake area are enchanting. Sounds ring clearly through the cool, thin air and bounce back and forth off the surrounding mountain slopes. It’s a vast wild place, and yet you can hear soft echoes in such fine detail it feels cozy.
That evening, though, all went quiet early on. Maybe it was the heat, my poor timing, or that fledgling season had exhausted the birds and they were early to bed. Not to be deterred, I recorded several clips hoping to capture something of interest before giving up when dusk gave way to darkness.
Back at home, I quickly spot-checked my recordings and found them to be either dull or dominated by American Robins. As lovely as the American Robin song is, it’s not the unique alpine evening chorus I had hoped to capture. Disappointed, I shelved my recordings and moved on.
I went back to my recordings and listened to them more closely. I decided to upload the best clips to BirdNET for analysis and was surprised to discover there were bird species singing in the background that I had previously overlooked.
I trimmed the clips, verified them against eBird recordings, and ran them through BirdNET one more time to generate matching spectrograms. The results are below. I’m an amateur when it comes to birdsong ID, so please leave a comment if you would like to suggest alternative identifications.
American Robin and Ruby-crowned Kinglet
The familiar, strident song of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is front and center in this clip. But if you listen carefully, you might hear the song of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula) at 0:08 min.
The distant rush of Mitchell Creek is not mighty enough to dampen the piercing, melancholy Chicka-dee-dee-dee call of the Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) in this recording. By the way, the low-pitched sounds at 0:30 min are not birds but instead the voices of hikers echoing across the lake.
American Robin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Red-breasted Nuthatch
In this audio clip, you’ll again hear the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) taking the lead, but if you listen carefully, you might also the following backup singers:
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula) at 0:09, 0:36, and 0:47 min
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) at 0:30 min
Before signing off, I thought I’d share with you a lovely video by Leslie the Bird Nerd that profiles the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. If you want to skip ahead to hear information about the Kinglet’s amazing song, go to the 3:25 min mark. But if you have the time, the entire video is a worthwhile watch.