Shy singing birds?

I do most of my observations while riding my bicycle on a local bike trail. When I can, I like to do audio observations. However, I have run into an odd sort of problem. While riding, I will hear a bird song that will repeat as long as I am riding. As soon as I stop my bike to make a recording, the bird will almost always stop singing, so I can almost never get a good recording of the song. Can anyone explain this phenomenon? Is there anything I can do about it?

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I can’t find the meme about it, but yes, it happens a lot, because you riding a bike was part of sounds that bird heard, and when you stopped it was a warning signal for it, something that brought bird’s attention to you, so sudden changes in movements like this are more noticeable than slow stop, but if you can’t do that or bird stops singing anyway, it’s part of experience.


Thanx. That makes sense.

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You are not alone is being at the receiving end of the Sounds of Silence

This phenomenon has been suggested as one of the Fundamentals Forces of Citizen Science

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Wait for a bit , some times the wait is more than a bit - usually if normalcy is restored the bird may sing again.


I generally do, but maybe not long enough. I’ll try being a bit more patient.

Is it a Cedar Waxwing and do you need to lube your chain? That has definitely happened to me. Also they’ve been a belt buckle and a whining dog. Good news though, they are one of the first birds your ears will stop hearing as you get older.

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I have regularly birded with my bike, and I rely primarily on hearing to locate birds, and I don’t have this problem. I wonder if my bike is quieter and/or I’m moving slower, or maybe I wait longer.

When I am birding with my bike, I rarely actually ride my bike, I’m usually walking it, and only use it to ride short distances to cover “dead ground” where there are not a lot of birds. And when I do, I tend to ride slowly.

I also regularly bird on foot and sometimes have birds just randomly stop singing when I was wanting to listen more. There is always a lot of start/stop, and I have never really noticed much of an effect of my presence.

If anything I have been surprised at how little most songbirds seem to care about my presence.

The one thing I have noticed is that hawks, owls, and crows distinctly do not like being stared at. I’ve repeatedly been in a habitat where I’m doing something else and there is a red-tailed hawk or some other hawk perched atop a pole or somewhere highly visible, and it’s just chillin there, and as soon as I start looking at it for more than a couple seconds, it flies off.

But a lot of songbirds don’t seem to care. The small ones are often even curious, like Carolina wrens often seem to come check me out when I come into their habitat.

one of things that i’ve been told by veteran birders is that if you’re driving along and see a bird in a tree, you should drive past it before trying to observe it. if you stop before you reach it, that’s apparently more likely to spook the bird. i’ve never had a chance to test this advice, and i’m not sure if it carries over to sound observations on bicycle, but maybe it’s something to consider?

Ha, been there. I’ve chased after what sounded like waxwings calling when it was a squeaky turbine on someone’s roof. But perhaps I’m getting to the age where I soon won’t hear those subtle sounds at all.

It’s just how birds react, no matter if you’re on foot or in the car, if you show the animal your interest it’s more likely to be frightened.

Especially when you point a big lens at it that looks like a giant eyeball.

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i think the idea is that if you go past it, it’s more likely to stop watching you, giving you a chance to point your camera or microphone at it without it noticing. (i’ve never tested this out myself though. so i’m just passing along advice that was given to me.)

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