Posts Tagged ‘display flight’

At this time of year, country nights are not quiet. The air is filled with music, a cacophony of voices celebrating the renewal of life. I braved the mosquitos to record their song just as darkness was falling. You can hear the Peep! Peep! of the Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer); the short, throbbing trills of the Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor); and the longer, extended trills of American Toads (Bufo americanus). The Adopt-a-Pond website offers excellent information about the amphibians of Ontario and you can listen to recordings of each species’ song. Not all frogs sing at the same time of year. The Wood Frogs are the first voices of spring, and then the Spring Peepers. The Bullfrogs are later, singing into summer.

Over the chorus of frogs is a recording of an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) performing his mating display. Listen for his call, a nasal Peent! … Peent! … Peent! given from a grassy field. At 1:36, he begins his aerial display. Listen for the whirring of his wings as he flys high into the night sky. Three of his outer primary feathers are modified to produce a whistling flight sound. I could hear him as he continues his flight, but unfortunately the sound doesn’t come through on the recording until about 2:20, when the whistling begins to sputter and he gives a series of chirps as his flight ends in a ‘falling leaf’ descent to the ground. What female could fail to be impressed?

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