In my part of the country, we are entering a peak period for birds returning from their winter migration. Ironically, it is snowing quite steadily today.
However, if you step outside when the weather is better, you are likely to hear different bird songs than the typical winter calls. Some of these will be mating calls. Others will be the songs of birds arriving or passing through.
Listen for something unfamiliar. It is easiest to match the song with a bird if you can also visually spot it. But sometimes you can’t. In any case, try to record the sound on your smartphone. If that isn’t an option, try to assign a set of words that sound like what you’ve just heard. For example, did it sound like “peter-peter-peter?” (That would be a Tufted Titmouse.)
If you aren’t able to identify the bird by sight, now you can use the recording or word description as a prompt to help you memorize the calls.
If you haven’t been able to see the bird, then the recording or word description can be compared to others available online for identification purposes.
Here are a few free options to try:
- The Cornell Lab’s All About Birds Bird Song section is a treasure: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/how-to-learn-bird-songs-and-calls/?pid=1059
Also try out their Bird Song Hero Game: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/learn-how-to-bird-by-ear-with-our-new-bird-song-hero-game/
- Audubon also has a birding by ear option: https://www.audubon.org/birding-by-ear
Some folks prefer phone apps. There is usually a fee associated with these. Some of the popular apps include:
- BirdNET (by the Cornell Lab) is built on a strong bioacoustic platform and seems to be very accurate.
- Song Sleuth (by Wildlife Acoustics) is supported by the Sibley Guides.
I’ve tried these apps and had mixed results. Not because they are inaccurate but because I can’t seem to get a loud enough recording for the identification to occur. Maybe you’ll have better luck.
In any case, try to learn one new birdsong this spring! That’s your challenge for this week.
This challenge is rated as moderate.