The ambient temperature was some where around 40 but the north wind made it feel like it was in the 20s. However, on the south side of the cabin it was downright balmy; I took off my jacket and rolled up my sleeves soaking up the Vitamin D. (One-handed selfies while recording are a bit difficult.) This is me with my new mic and parabola. Parabolas give a 15dB boost without using any electronic magnification.
Two pairs of harlequin ducks were swimming back and forth below me. Most of the time harlequins are non-vocal. But today it seemed there was a bit of squabbling going on. Perfect. I've never recorded harlequins before so this was my best opportunity.
While the harlequins were squabbling, a pair of chestnut-backed chickadees flew into the snowberry patch next to me. They stayed less than a minute but i was able to get a decent recording of another species I've never recorded before.
No sooner had the chickadees disappeared when a small flock of black turnstones started foraging on the rocks below me. Turnstones are another species that is mainly quiet but when the flock takes off in flight sometimes emits a chittering call. I've never gotten a recording good enough to upload before so this was a new species for me at the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds.
I ended the recording session having a pair of black oystercatchers fling directly at me from Low Island and continue on by. Oystercatchers are one of my favorite birds and I may have over a hundred recordings of them. The Macaulay Library will accept as many as people can give them. This allows for comparison of oystercatchers as individuals, by geographic area, differing calls at different times of year, etc.
Now back to the question in the title, do birds sing in winter? When birds are vocalizing, they are either singing or calling. Singing occurs during breeding season and has to do with attracting a mate or establishing a territory. Calls can happen year round including nesting season. Calls can warn of danger or be a contact call establishing where others in the flock are located. This time of year we are most certainly hearing calls although some species have started working on last year's nest.
As I look out the window longing for the avian melodies of the dawn chorus, still about a month away, there is snow in the air reminding me to be patient and enjoy the present. I've posted this poem before but seems appropriate every day:
Ten thousand flowers in spring,
The moon in autumn,
A cool breeze in summer,
Snow in winter.
If the mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
This is the best season of your life.
Wu Men Hui-k 'ai (1183-1260)