Ornithologists Uncover One Listener's Shy Backyard Tweeter We asked listeners to send the sounds of their backyard wildlife, especially if they had no idea what creature was making them. The experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology help solve one mystery.
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Ornithologists Uncover One Listener's Shy Backyard Tweeter

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Ornithologists Uncover One Listener's Shy Backyard Tweeter

Ornithologists Uncover One Listener's Shy Backyard Tweeter

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's a lesson in how much you can learn from a sound, a sound heard outside Medellin, Colombia, the first sound of nature we are featuring as we invite your recordings of species you would like help identifying.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Listener Nathaniel Folk (ph) from Colombia writes this (reading) the boulevard in front of my apartment follows a stream, verdant with tropical trees and vegetation. Almost every morning I hear a distinctive bird call like a person whistling. It starts almost every morning around 5:30 a.m. and usually stops by 8.

INSKEEP: OK, let's listen to what Nathaniel Folk hears.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD CHIRPING)

INSKEEP: Wow, that does sound like a person whistling. Our job was to identify the sound. Jessie Barry, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, quickly recognized this bird as one of her favorites.

GREENE: Here's a recording she used to confirm her guess.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCALY-BREASTED WREN WHISTLING)

JESSIE BARRY: This is a song of the Scaly-breasted Wren, sometimes also called Southern Nightingale-wren.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCALY-BREASTED WREN WHISTLING)

BARRY: Now, this is a bird that you often hear more than you see. They're very secretive, staying hidden near the forest floor most of the time. Its haunting and unforgettable song is a slow series of pure tone whistles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCALY-BREASTED WREN WHISTLING)

INSKEEP: So there you have it, the Scaly-breasted Wren (whistling). That was me actually.

GREENE: That was lovely.

INSKEEP: And Jessie Barry, of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, helped us to solve the mystery for listener Nathaniel Folk.

GREENE: And Steve will be doing sounds to help us solve all these mysteries - maybe. Is there a wildlife sound that you want some help identifying? Use your smartphone to record at least a minute of the natural world in your backyard. Send the file to nprcrowdsource@npr.org with the subject line decode nature, and for more on this project, follow the hashtag #decodenature on Twitter.

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