Songs of Spring

Below are the answers to the nine birds we challenged you to identify on Friday. (Birds with the blue hyperlink will open a previous SIB Blog for that bird)

How did you do?  If you answered:

1 right = Hatchling
2-4 right = Fledgling
5-7 right =Matured
8-9 right = True Bird Nerd

A common question is, “What is your favorite season?” This past Monday as I rode my bike from the Marina to Jenkins Point before going to yoga, I finally realized I have a definitive answer – SPRING! My passion for birding is growing exponentially with my ability to identify birds, especially by hearing them. Birds make chip and call notes all year long, but many only sing in the spring when they are trying to attract a mate or defend their territory. With migration now in full swing, I love the challenge of identifying songs I haven’t heard since last spring! And best of all, listening to birds can be done while walking, biking, hanging out in the yard and golfing!  In fact, I even bird while watching golf on TV!  Try it today if you are watching The Masters – I bet you’ll hear many of the same birds you hear on Seabrook Island.

If you’ve gotten this far, then maybe you are interested in how to improve your skills!  In researching this article I realized there are a number of great resources that can help us on our quest!  The first article, Bird ID Skills: How to Learn Bird Songs and Calls, includes five tips for beginning birders:  Watch & Listen, Learn from an Expert, Listen to Recordings, Say it to Yourself and Details – Break it Apart.  As you listen to a song, evaluate the rhythm, pitch, repetition and tone.  Some people find using Mnemonics (like the Carolina Wren’s “Germany Germany“) helpful while others may prefer the visual of a Spectogram of the sound (like the Northern Parula’s below).

northern parula song spectrogram

The second article I found helpful is How To Listen To Bird Song—Tips And Examples From The Warbler Guide.  Although this article focuses specifically on warblers, it provides a common language we can use to describe bird songs like the song quality (buzzy, trilled, clear), pitch trend (rising, falling, steady) and number of sections.

If you are interested in improving your identification of birds using their sounds, try one of these two websites to play fun games to challenge and learn bird songs.

Larkwire
All About Bird Song

Finally, some birders may use their phone to listen to a bird’s song/call while in the field or even to attract a bird in order to see it.  Before attempting to do this, you should understand the proper method for using playback and the pro’s and con’s by reading this article:  Proper use of playback in birding (Sibley).

We hope you are inspired to start increasing the number of birds you can identify by sound!

Submitted by Nancy Brown
Photos by Hider, Konrad, Moore & Brown

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Author: sibirders

SEABROOK ISLAND BIRDERS / “watching, learning, protecting” Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) are residents, renters and guests of Seabrook Island, SC who have an interest in learning, protecting and providing for the well-being of the incredible variety of birds that inhabit Seabrook Island throughout the year.

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