John Pilkington's picture

Bird that sounds like a Cricket??

On several occasions whilst walking in Brecon Beacon valleys, this summer, I have heard a call that sounds very similar to a grasshopper or cricket's "chirrup", but at a volume that suggests something much bigger. I have never actually seen the caller. More recently, whilst near a sports ground in Bedfordshire, a similar sound was clearly coming from the lower branches of a tree. The caller seemed to move to other branches as I circled the tree trying to locate it, and I did fleetingly see a bird between Sparrow and Blackbird size fly from one tree to another, closely followed by the sound coming from the new tree.

Perhaps not much to go on, but anyone have any thoughts on what the caller might be?



John Pilkington's picture

I should have added that each

I should have added that each "chirruping" call lasted for between half a second and one second and was repeated at 3-5 second intervals. Don't know whether that helps or confuses.

DavidHowdon's picture


Could it be a call from one of the finches?
I'd not describe them as very cricket like myself but we don't really have a good common language for describing sound so that doesn't mean much.

Eskling2's picture

Could it have been...

... a Grasshopper Warbler? In addition to the grasshopper/cricket-like call, they tend to stay hidden in bushes, hopping from branch to branch. (see 'grasshopper warbler reeling' in Youtube)

ophrys's picture


If it is a call, then it won't be a Grasshopper warbler.

Sounds to me as if it might well be a Whitethroat, which makes a loud, grating call, not unlike a quick burst of a grasshopper on steroids.


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John Pilkington's picture

Grasshopper Warbler

Many thanks to all. I checked the RSPB website for the "calls" of both the Grasshopper Warbler and the Whitethroat, and the former is almost exactly the sound that I recall hearing. The website example of the Warbler call lasts for 6-7 seconds, whereas I thought that those I heard were shorter - nevertheless, the sound is the one I was trying to describe. Will have to keep an ear open and try harder to see the "songster" to compare with the pictures. Thanks once again.

ophrys's picture

1/2 second

You described the call at 1/2 second to a second. That does not sound like a Grasshopper Warbler that I have ever heard. Their call does not fit what you are describing and their reeling song lasts longer than 1/2 second to one second. I suspect you were hearing something else. Grasshopper Warbler is one of those where you know it when you hear it...if any doubt exists, then you haven't heard it!


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RoyW's picture

Not a Grasshopper Warbler

I agree with Ophrys, the bird that you are describing is not a Grasshopper Warbler, even if the sound is similar to a brief snatch of Grasshopper Warbler song.

There are quite a few birds with calls that could fit the description, and the described behaviour, including Whitethroat, various finches, and perhaps even Dunnock, but it is difficult to describe calls - and most birds have a wide variety of calls.
Grasshopper Warblers just don't give repeated brief snatches of song, and they don't sing from trees (other than perhaps very small trees in scrubby areas).

Example calls of Dunnock:

and the type of Whitethroat call that I think Ophrys was referring to:

John Pilkington's picture

Not a Grasshopper Warbler

Many thanks Roy and Ophrys for your feedback. RoyW's Dunnock call example is certainly closer to the duration of the calls I heard, and the tone is also very similar, so perhaps it was that. I guess that that is most likely given the environments I heard it in too.

The debate has been helpful and encouraged further investigation into bird types that I didn't know about before. Will listen and watch more closely next time I am out.

WS159's picture

Bit of a long shot maybe, but

Bit of a long shot maybe, but your description of the chirruping sound immediately made me think of the alarm call of a blue tit, maybe a great tit.

The rspb site only has the song, but these other links might help

samgoldy's picture

could be a nightjar

could be a nightjar especially if you were on heathland

shrike07's picture

Bird call

I agree with orphrys, to me it would be most likely to be a Whitethroat, though I could be wrong.

dmmilt's picture


Worm-eating Warbler
Helmitheros vermivorus
Mohonk Preserve, May 2000.

ballybanebirdman's picture

Wrong continent

Worm-eating warblers are only found in the Americas. This observation was made in the UK

Phil Brennan's picture

Bird that sounds like a Cricket

Hi John - it may very well be a Greenfinch - do check the RSPB site link (calling audio is a good match) below:-
I have listened to their evening call many times in my vicinity ( from dusk & sometimes well into the dark in summer ) and can only conclude (do tell me otherwise folks) -that the Greenfinch is probably responsible, given the suitable geography and territory type I'm located in ( Lincolnshire i.e. v. rural )
NB: Their grasshopper-like stridulation sound with several seconds between bursts also confounds location / tracking easily - especially in poor light - so difficult to visually confirm - sorry.
Hope this is of some use though.

Phil B - Lincolnshire