John over at A DC Birding Blog has challenged us to come up with our 10 favorite bird songs. Along with first entries by Mike and Nuthatch, here's my list:
1) Anna's Hummingbird. Grew up listening to these guys as they colonized western Oregon from the south. They're tiny bodies puff up and it sounds like they need some serious WD-40 and their wheels are coming off. Listen here.
2) Barred Owl. I really like bird sounds at night, when they are almost disembodied from the birds that make them. I love the monkey-hooting of these guys when they really get agitated. Listen here.
3) Yellow-headed Blackbird. How can you resist this otherworldly song? When you are out in the marshes of the Intermountain West, their songs really help you connect to the place. Listen here.
4) Greater Prairie Chicken. In case you need proof that God has a sense of humor. Listen here.
5) Pileated Woodpecker. A big sound from a big bird usually found near big trees. Takes me back to the Douglas-fir forests of my childhood in Oregon. Listen here.
6) Chimney Swift. OK, I hear these almost every day, so they aren't so exotic. But to me, their sound represents the crackling of life as it splits the sky. Listen here.
7) Greater Sage-Grouse. More strange sounds from the Great Basin. You haven't lived until you've heard this coming across the sage flats at dawn. Listen here.
8) Common Loon. There isn't anything common about the calls of this ancient bird. If you've heard it in the summer on a lake surrounded by forest, you know you were hearing the soul of the wild north. Listen here.
9) Plain Chachalaca. What a name, what a sound. My kids are still going around the house trying to sound like this from our time in Texas. Listen here.
10) Upland Sandpiper. Night is falling across Central Texas and these guys are calling as they fly over on their way north. The sound, and the birds, slipping off into the darkness...Listen here.
Looking over my list, I seem to like strange sounds that represent places and times I've shared with birds in wild places. No sweet sounding notes for me. Give me the raw and otherworldly.