The beautiful sounds from out feathered friends are just part of what makes birding a joy. Although lovely, when a bird sings, it isn't simply a sweet song, it is actually an indicator of the type and location of the bird. Because birds are often hidden in the trees or brush, learning bird calls is a great way to know what species of birds are near. Whether you're birding on a nature hike or gardening in your backyard this summer, the following tips will help you recognize birds form bluebirds to owls.
Look with Your Eyes, Hear with Your Ears
While it may seem obvious, one of the best ways to connect the type of bird with its voice is by visually seeing it. Although this is often difficult in excess foliage, if you can see a bird singing, you will better instill in your memory the song with the species.
Bring an Expert with You
Tackling bird calls without any experience can be very difficult. When possible, go birding with an expert who can help guide and share their knowledge with you. If you don't personally know an expert bird caller, then look to join a local bird club or join a nature hike sponsored by your local Audubon chapter.
Listen to Recordings
Make note of the birds you regularly see and then look up their sounds online. Luckily, we live in a digital age that allows for excellent recordings of thousands of bird species. In fact, there are now smartphone apps that can help teach you bird calls from the palm of your hand. Of course, while it will still take lots of practice to commit the birds and their calls to memory, these apps can certainly help quiz you as you practice.
Three of the Top Rated Bird Call apps:
Audubon Birds Pro: This app is available on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon. It is free and perfect for beginners and experts alike. This guide offers information on appearance, behavior, habitat and bird calls. There are up to 8 hours of bird calls, which are differentiated by region and season.
Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell: This free app helps users easily identify birds with a step-by-step method. In just 5 questions given to the user, the app will come up with a list of possible matches to identify any unknown bird. Great for beginners or intermediate bird watchers, this app is perfect to bring along on your next hike.
Birdsong Identiflyer: Although not an app, learning bird songs quickly is a breeze with this easy-to-use tool. Small enough for your pocket, you can learn 10 bird songs in 10 minutes! It 140 Bird and Frog Songs on the Super Song Cards.
Put Words to Songs
It may sound silly, but adding a few lyrics to the bird songs can help you remember them. As you listen, you'll notice that some bird songs actually sound like words, so this type of activity will be a real advantage in associating the song with the bird.
Pick At It
That's right, pick the song apart and try to notice as much as you can. From its rhythm and pitch to tone and repetition, the more you study the song (and the recordings of the song) you will begin to identify the various features and unique traits of each one.
Ready to go on a bird calling adventure of your own? Don't forget to bring your binoculars so you can get a really good look at each species!