Glossary Species Home
"buzz calls" category is a diverse group of flight calls which
have in common a buzzy-sounding quality (Also see zeep calls,
a subset of this category covered on a separate comparison page). Calls vary
widely in duration, pitch, slope (whether they rise, descend, or are level),
degree of buzziness (how coarse or fine the buzz is), and average volume.
Playing the calls in the table above should reveal some of these
characteristics. The calls in the table are arranged roughly from the finest
buzz (Lincolns and Swamp Sparrows) to the coarsest buzz (Dickcissel and Northern
When listening to the calls in the table above, it is best to consider them as three different groups. The first group is the very similar Swamp and Lincoln's Sparrows with their very fine buzz and medium length. With these species, notice the slightly dryer quality of the Lincoln's. The second group is the four warblers which have the shortest calls. With these species, consider especially the pitch, duration, and degree of buzziness. The third group is the buntings, Blue Grosbeak, Dickcissel, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. These are generally the longest calls with the coarsest buzz. With these species, consider especially the pitch (highest in Indigo and lowest in Dickcissel and Northern Rough-winged Swallow) and slope of the call.
In the table above we have tried to include calls that reveal the range of variation for each species. However, for some species (e.g. Painted Bunting), our small sample of diurnal flight call examples limits our ability to do this.