Dan Mennill's
Bird Songs of the Yucatan Peninsula

An on-line guide to some common tropical bird vocalizations with descriptive analyses
Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is home to an amazing diversity of birds, yet the vocalizations of most resident birds have not been studied in detail. By recording the songs and calls of tropical birds and presenting an analysis of their vocalizations on this website I hope to accomplish three things. First, I attempt to provide a more thorough and quantitative analysis of these songs than is covered in field guides or elsewhere in birdsong literature. Second, I present examples of some common songs from the Yucatan Peninsula as a guide for the student of ornithology. Finally, I wish to make these recordings available to others. The vocalizations of sixteen resident species are described, and spectrograms and wav files of their songs are included through the links below.
Species Described  (Click on a species name)
- Brown Jay
- Caribbean Dove
- Ferruginous Pygmy-owl
- Great-tailed Grackle
- Green Jay
- Ladder-backed Woodpecker
- Long-billed Gnatwren
- Mangrove Warbler
- Mangrove Vireo
- Melodious Blackbird
- Montezuma Oropendola
- Plain Chachalaca
- Spot-breasted Wren
- Tricolored Heron
- Tropical Mockingbird
- Violaceous Trogon
       Click on any of the birds in the list to connect to a webpage about each species' song. 
       You can return to this page through links at the bottom of each species' page.

Song Descriptions

Each link above contains examples of each species' vocalizations. Each type of vocalization is depicted as a sound spectrogram (a graphical representation of sound where the x-axis is time and the y-axis is frequency). The units on all spectrograms presented here are seconds on the x-axis and Kilohertz on the y-axis. For each vocalization I provide a general description, detailed measurements of various aspects of the vocalization, an anecdotal review of the behaviour accompanying each song or call, and a brief description of the habitat in which each bird was recorded. I also indicate the sample sizes on which all quantitative observations are based (e.g. "four songs from two different individuals").


All vocalizations presented here were recorded between February 16 and 26, 1999, near the villages of Zoh Laguna, Neuva Becal and Celstun, and in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Yucatan and Campeche, Mexico. Recordings were made with an Audio-technica AT815A shotgun microphone, a Saul Mineroff SME-BA3 preamplifier and a Sony Professional WM-D6C recorder.  Songs were digitized using John Burt's Syrinx software. Examples were filtered using Syrinx and CoolEdit 96, where I tried to minimize alteration of the original signal while removing as much interference as possible. All songs are now stored as MP3 files (for an MP3 player, try Winamp).

All songs presented here may be downloaded and used freely, providing you request permission from me first (email: dmennill AT uwindsor DOT ca).  For many of the above species (particularly the Spot-breasted Wren, the Long-billed Gnatwren, the Mangrove Warbler, and the Great-tailed Grackle) I have many more recordings if you're particularly interested. For more information, please contact me by email: dmennill AT uwindsor DOT ca.


Many thank-yous go out to the brilliant birder Javier Salgado-Ortiz and the fearless leader Raleigh J. Robertson who guided a wonderful field course through the Yucatan forests, and to the students of Biology 407/848. Further thanks to the University of Campeche for transportation and to Laurene Ratcliffe for the use of recording equipment.


- Davis, L.I. 1972. A Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Central America. University of Texas Press, Austin.
- Howell, S.N.G. & S. Webb. 1995. A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York.
- Peterson, R.T. & E. Chalif. 1973.  A Field Guide to Mexican Birds. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
- Scott, S.L. ed. 1996.  National Geographic Society Field Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington.
- Stiles, F.G. & A.F. Skutch. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca.

All information presented here was collected / compiled / written / photographed by Dan Mennill.  All illustrations are scanned from Howell and Webb's A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America, a beautifully illustrated field guide which is indispensable for anyone traveling in the Yucatan.  All photographs were taken by Dan Mennill.

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All information and photographs copyright Daniel J. Mennill 1999.
No recordings or other information from this site may be used without written permission from me. 
Please email me (dmennill AT uwindsor DOT ca) and I will happily grant permission for any non-commercial or education purposes.

This page created July 10, 1999. Last updated August 18, 2001