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By WilletBeThere
Hi Everybody,

I was wondering if those of you with knowledge of bird calls could be of assistance. Are there any other birds that have a song similar to the two-tone descending song of the Black-Capped Chickadee?

Back in June I was hiking Mount Kusam in Sayward, BC on Vancouver Island and walked through a section of woods that was filled with a two-tone call very similar to a Black-Capped Chickadee's except it often modulated and was repeated in higher and lower pitch centers.

We don't have Black-Caps on Vancouver Island so I imagine it was something else but I haven't had any idea where to start.


By Birder2000
Chestnut-backed Chickadees sound similar to Black-capped Chickadees, so maybe that's what you heard. You can listen to their call at: ... dee/sounds

I hope this helps! :)
By Nonnobissolum
For sure only the Black-capped makes the two toned FEE-bee call

Maybe someone who knows this area can answer you right away, I love these kinds of puzzles. Was it low on the ground, high in a tree? Old growth, second growth? Could it have not been a bird or a bird for sure?

Cheers, Max
By WilletBeThere
This part of the trail was dis-used logging road through dense second growth forest (fairly young trees at that).

The direction of the sound indicated the birds were likely 4-15ft above ground and coming from both sides of the trail.

Our elevation at the time was very roughly 200m-500m above sea level.
By WilletBeThere
Thanks for the suggestions! These are great ideas!

I feel confident that it was many birds delivering two-tone calls which probably rules out the Varied Thrush. I listened to the baby goldfinch call and it didn't seem to fit with the whistling timbre I heard.

As an aside, it really did sound like the call of the black-cap, just slightly out of tune and modulated more than I've heard before. Having grown up in the Midwest, the song of the black-cap was common in our front yard and is a sound I know well.

Thanks for brainstorming!
By Nonnobissolum
This one has been bugging me because I feel like I should know it. What about the Spotted Towhee? It has a three note song and the first note is often not audible (to me anyway) and the last two notes could sound similar to a BCCH kind of.
By WilletBeThere
I don't believe it was a Creeper, the timbre isn't right.

The Towhee is an interesting suggestion but I can't imagine walking through a large group of Towhee's and not hearing a single rattle or trill or any of the other Towhee give-a-ways.

Do Mountain Chickadees ever make it to Vancouver Island?

Thanks for the great suggestions!
By Jeremy Gatten
My first thought would be Hermit Thrush. It has a single whistled note and then a spiraling note that trails off, and the tone does frequently change much like a Varied Thrush. They are common higher elevation breeders and can reach relatively high densities.

A species I don't believe I would expect on Vancouver Island into June that also has a whistled song is Golden-crowned Sparrow - their song is usually three-noted, though. They typically vacate the Victoria area by mid-May and I believe they don't breed on the Island. Maybe someone knows whether they breed on the mountains at the north end of Vancouver Island? I don't have any resources with me as I just left for a work trip.

Anyways, give those two a shot!

Jeremy Gatten
Saanichton, BC (currently in St. John's, Nfld)
By WilletBeThere
It definitely wasn't a Hermit Thrush although the Swainson's Thrushes were everywhere.

Golden Crowned Sparrows are rare on the island over the summer but I do hear resemblance in their three-toned call to what I heard on the mountain.

Great suggestions!

So far the call most resembling what I heard that day is the Mountain Chickadee. The whistled timbre, two-toned interval slightly wider than a major second, and the out-of-tune and modulated repetitions are almost a dead match. That said, the bird has never been seen on Vancouver Island and the sightings nearest Mount Kusam are 50K away or farther. It is hugely unlikely that there was a group of Mountain Chickadees in those woods. So for now, I guess the search continues...

Thank you everyone for your suggestions!
By Birder2000
Try listening to some kinglet calls, Golden-crowned Kinglet in particular. Maybe that's a possibility?

There is a small group of Black-capped Chickadees found on Vancouver Island in a certain location. I think it is somewhere in the Victoria area, but I'm not sure.
By therobwalker
As far as I am aware there aren't any Black-cappeds on the Island that I have heard of. I would love to be corrected though!
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