While trying to find my mysterious heard-but-not-seen bird from Kamakura, I came across this site with recordings of Japanese bird calls. The text is mostly corrupted, but the sound files still work. I listened to all of them in my search. There was one that I could hear it in the background, but that wasn't what I was looking for. Finally I found one that I'm almost positive is right - a low whistle interrupted by a short trill. It's the Japanese Bush-Warbler, and reading the description in my bird book makes me more certain. It's rarely seen, hiding in the trees, but always heard in time to announce spring. Uguisu in Japanese, it's also called the flower-viewing-bird and the poem-reading-bird because of poet's fondness for referencing it - which suits the bookish temple where I first heard it.
It gives its name to a matching olive-green color (uguisu-iro), female announcers who advertise outside stores with megaphones (uguisu-jou), and the squeaking floors used in some castles to warn of intruders - the famed nightingale floors (uguisu-bari). One of my biggest regrets from the Kyoto trip is that Nijo Castle was closed the entire time I was there. Next time I want to walk across that floor.
I need to get more mail if these are the stamps.
In a less appealing bit of trivia, their droppings can be used for whiter skin. I'll stick with sunscreen, thanks.
(Randomly, searching for "Japanese bird" comes up with this site.)
On that first site, another interesting clip is that of the Blue and White Flycatcher, which I'm really hoping to hear in person someday as it's the prefectural bird, and because of that brilliant blue color. I also want to see the national bird, the Green Pheasant. I'm already acquainted with the city bird, the Oriental Turtle Dove.
While biking home yesterday, I heard the distinctive song of the uguisu and stopped dead. It would have been strange to hover outside a stranger's thickly forested backyard just to listen to it, but at least I know I won't have to go all the way to Kamakura to hear it again.
Also, on someone's garden wall I saw an Azure-winged Magpie cheerfully dragging a fat worm back and forth so as to make it tender and delicious. I presume.