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Common, Scottish, and Parrott Crossbills - separation by excitement call? (1 Viewer)

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Supporter
Wondered what people's thoughts were, NOT about the question of whether they should be separate species, but whether the attached document is reliable?

It is from the Scottish Ornithological Society, but it may be a few years old. In the document you can listen to 5 so-called excitement calls, 3 of Common Crossbills that apparently have 3 types, 1 of Scottish Crossbill, and 1 of Parrott Crossbill.


Having just got back from Scotland from a weeks excellent birding, I was watching Crossbills at several locations, and I recorded the excitement calls of 5 large-billed birds at Curr Wood. It is useful with Crossbills that often the first thing you hear is the excitement call, upon a flock or group landing in a tree. And what struck me from the above 5 recordings (on the link) was that the Scottish Crossbills excitement call was easily distinguishable from all others, in that it was almost like morse code (stop-start etc), whereas all the others were continuous. Is it really as easy as this? My large-billed birds sounded exactly like the Scottish Crossbills on the attached recording in the link (my i-phone recording is identical in fact) and I now feel I could separate them quite easily. Common and Parrott should be quite easily distinguishable visually, so if you familiarise yourself with the Scottish excitement call, which as I say is quite different to the similar Common and Parrott excitement call, then separating the three is not as difficult as envisaged......is it?

Problem solved?
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
I can't see that these few calls are the whole story. Having been told I must expect to believe in Common Crossbill call variation from Type A to Type Z3XXX or whatever the current range is, the supposition here is that Crossbills with that wide a range of calls have only three (A, B, E) variants of excitement call? Beggars belief. I want to see excitement calls related directly to the entire claimed range of Crossbill calls before I bother waking up to this proposal. Who knows what cross-correlations might be thrown up by comprehensive data.

Not to mention that we have only the recordists word for it that recognisable Scottish Crossbills were the origin of recording "C" and we've all seen the difficulties with relating the supposed Scottish Crossbill phenotype (birds resembling which appear across Britain and elsewhere apparently, making it as usual difficult to impossible to believe in a resident form of this irruptive crop-following nomad) to a type specimen or type specimen call.

Show again, with working.....

John
 

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
Wondered what people's thoughts were, NOT about the question of whether they should be separate species, but whether the attached document is reliable?

It is from the Scottish Ornithological Society, but it may be a few years old. In the document you can listen to 5 so-called excitement calls, 3 of Common Crossbills that apparently have 3 types, 1 of Scottish Crossbill, and 1 of Parrott Crossbill.


Having just got back from Scotland from a weeks excellent birding, I was watching Crossbills at several locations, and I recorded the excitement calls of 5 large-billed birds at Curr Wood. It is useful with Crossbills that often the first thing you hear is the excitement call, upon a flock or group landing in a tree. And what struck me from the above 5 recordings (on the link) was that the Scottish Crossbills excitement call was easily distinguishable from all others, in that it was almost like morse code (stop-start etc), whereas all the others were continuous. Is it really as easy as this? My large-billed birds sounded exactly like the Scottish Crossbills on the attached recording in the link (my i-phone recording is identical in fact) and I now feel I could separate them quite easily. Common and Parrott should be quite easily distinguishable visually, so if you familiarise yourself with the Scottish excitement call, which as I say is quite different to the similar Common and Parrott excitement call, then separating the three is not as difficult as envisaged......is it?

Problem solved?
If I’ve understood you correctly, then no, it’s not as easy as this. The patterns of the delivery of the sequence of calls is not as important as the sound (and crucially, sonogram shape) of the individual notes.
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Supporter
Thanks for your thoughts Andy, John, Mark.

I did wonder if it was as simple as that, thinking it was the 'pattern' of delivery as well as the sound.

If I have a recording, does anyone know how to convert it to sonogram?

To the human ear, separating Parrot and Scottish is clearly very difficult.
 
Last edited:

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
If you can message me the recording (not sure I’ll be able to download it if you attach it here) I can do it. But don’t get your hopes up as separating crossbill sonograms needs a bit of detail which might not be present on a phone recording.
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Supporter
If you can message me the recording (not sure I’ll be able to download it if you attach it here) I can do it. But don’t get your hopes up as separating crossbill sonograms needs a bit of detail which might not be present on a phone recording.
That is extremely kind of you Mark, I have PM'd you.
Thank you
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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