Up your birding ID game this spring by starting now to learn to ID birds by their songs. Often birds are only heard, and by recognizing their calls you can easily add more birds to your list. Not all birds have calls that are instantly recognizable – like the unmistakable call of a Red-winged Blackbird; or birds who mercifully say their own names like Killdeer; or Barred Owls who ask “who cooks for you”? If you have difficulty relating the bird to the call, you are not alone! But there are a variety of ways to learn bird calls – and they can be fun!
The calls I remember best are from birds I saw calling. Having both the visual and audio cues at the same time works for me. Chasing a bird call and seeing the bird in action actually is a great game you can play with your friends as well. But if you are trying to get your birdsong game together in winter…well you may need some help! Enter Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Song Hero. If you are just learning birdsong, this is a fun and easy way to get started as they take you through all the steps needed and give you the opportunity to see and hear the birds at the same time.
Cornell also has an overview of how to learn to ID birds by their songs. Whatever method works best for you, winter is a super time to get ahead of the curve and add some additional ID information to your birding skills for next spring.