u just called new bird who dis?
June 18, 2020 12:28 PM   Subscribe

It was a small, iridescently-colored but dark red (head & neck) and blue (body) bird. The two calls it made, it repeated as it traveled further and further away in the treetops. I'm in eastern Massachusetts, in a dense suburban area. This footage was taken on an early evening in June.
Here's a link to 16-second video. Please ignore the cardinal. Thanks for your help!
posted by not_on_display to Science & Nature (14 answers total)
Could it have been a Brown-headed Cowbird? About the same size as a robin, but slimmer.
posted by Guess What at 12:47 PM on June 18, 2020

Response by poster: Brown-Headed Cowbird: looks right in size and coloring, but my recording captures something lower-pitched
posted by not_on_display at 1:02 PM on June 18, 2020

Your visual description says barn swallow to me, but they don't make songs like those the video.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:20 PM on June 18, 2020

Best answer: And actually, I'm not sure I hear anything other than cardinal calls on that video. Is the mystery bird's call audible in the video?
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:29 PM on June 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

The cowbirds in Vermont -- and we have a pair that are likely laying in the phoebe's nest in our barn -- are more like starlings with brown heads (males) and the females almost look like catbirds. Cowbirds like to feed on the ground, and are usually found around farm animals because they like to eat what the livestock stir when then graze. So it seems out of place where you are.

I am not good with bird calls. You know how to reach me :)
posted by terrapin at 1:41 PM on June 18, 2020

Is the mystery bird's call audible in the video?

It's the second set of calls, it's a little fainter than some of the wind noise but you should be able to hear that. If it's a cardinal call (I heard the cardinal 'keep' in the beginning a few times) then it's a new one to me.
posted by jessamyn at 2:10 PM on June 18, 2020

Best answer: The only thing I hear in that video is a cardinal. It makes a little chip at the beginning and sings at 5 seconds and 10 seconds. Is there something else there that my old ears aren't picking up? I've been trying to find a recording online that sounds like the one in the video and so far the closest I've come is the first audio clip (not the video) on this All About Birds page. It's not exactly the same, but your bird's song sounds clearly cardinally to me. I've definitely heard cardinals in real life doing the "kee hue" thing that one is doing.
posted by Redstart at 3:00 PM on June 18, 2020

Best answer: Amy can only hear a cardinal, which calls twice, and that's all I hear.
posted by bondcliff at 3:35 PM on June 18, 2020

You can listen to recordings of Brown-headed Cowbird at Xeno-canto. I also can’t hear anything but the cardinal in your recording.
posted by jkent at 4:30 PM on June 18, 2020

Best answer: Another vote for cardinal here. Sometimes their wings are darker than their bodies so that might explain some of the colour difference present? We listened to tanagers and orioles to see if it might be any of those but the songs are wrong.
posted by hydrobatidae at 5:20 PM on June 18, 2020

Best answer: Great, it must be a new-to-us cardinal song!
posted by jessamyn at 7:10 PM on June 18, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks! I'll stick with cardinal for now, even though what I hear doesn't match, note-wise and lengthwise in their songs, they have the same style, and definitely some chipping trills. And there definitely was a cardinal in that tree which I saw in bright red (and which you can see if you pause the video as the camera tries to follow the bird that flew from the wire. I think I may have been mistaking the sight of bird 1 with the call from bird 2. (In which case, what was bird 1, a cowbird on a wire?. No answer needed; thanks for all your input!)
posted by not_on_display at 7:21 PM on June 18, 2020

Response by poster: [I now believe what I saw on the wire was a starling, but yes, what I heard was most likely a cardinal. I didn't know they made anything but "chip" noises!]
posted by not_on_display at 11:59 AM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Cardinal songs are pretty varied, compared to (say) chickadees or robins. Here's 37 minutes of cardinal songs for your listening pleasure; you can hear the variety of their songs in there.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:24 PM on June 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

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