The “zeep” complex consists of nine birds that produce nocturnal flight calls with similar acoustic features. Our inability to distinguish these calls inhibits the acoustic monitoring of these species. We test the hypothesis that flight calls of nine warblers in the “zeep” complex show sufficient acoustic differences to allow differentiation. We investigate divergence in these vocalizations by recording birds held for banding and collecting additional recordings from sound libraries. We used three approaches to compare calls between species: analysis of variance in acoustic properties, discriminant analysis of acoustic properties, and spectrographic cross-correlation. The first approach revealed five species that were different in one or more acoustic properties. The second approach revealed a level of assignment to the correct species (73%) that exceeded levels expected by chance (36%). The third approach revealed calls of seven species to be significantly more similar to conspecific calls than heterospecific calls. Our results suggest the calls of many members of the “zeep” complex exhibit species-specific differences in structure, which may allow differentiation of at least five “zeep” species based on call alone. We advocate for the combined use of these three approaches for the comparison of “zeep” calls in future flight call studies.
Acoustic monitoring, migration monitoring, night flight calls, nocturnal flight calls, nocturnal migration, zeep