Sound Ideas: Say’s Trig Variations

by Carl Strang

As I listen for singing insects in the summer, at this point I recognize nearly all that I am hearing. Sometimes I hear something that obviously is new and different, as was the case with the green-winged cicada last summer, and I put in the effort needed for an identification. Sometimes a sound is so rarely heard that I am inclined to pass it off as an anomalous sound from a familiar species, though I store it in memory in case it turns up again. Today’s story is a case in point. On a couple occasions last summer I heard songs with the pattern of a confused ground cricket, brief trills with brief spaces between them, in a fairly regular rhythm. The problem with this was that the singers, which I was unable to see, seemed to be above the ground, and they were in wetland edges rather than upland woods. The sound quality was similar to that of Say’s trig, and I figured that this might be an alternate song of that species.

Say’s trig is a common small cricket.

Say’s trig is a common small cricket.

The typical song of this species has been well described as a “silvery trill.” Here’s a recording:

As I dug through my past recordings, I was surprised to find that the one I had made of a temporary captive in my house had the interrupted pattern:

There was no question of the singer’s identity. I also found a field recording of this pattern, at Fullersburg Woods near Salt Creek:

In this example the rhythm is less regular, and leads in the end to an extended normal trill. I am not finding a reference to this interrupted version of the song in the literature I have. It could be a context-driven alternative, or possibly individual variation. I’m certainly not prepared to suggest a different species, though new species in this genus continue to be sorted out.


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