[CT Birds] Listening
rmharvey at snet.net
Fri Mar 5 23:26:09 EST 2010
Birding by ear is probably the most important skill that separates the beginner from the more experienced birder. For those who have not taken this step yet, I encourage you to start. You can not imagine how much it expands your birding horizons until you experience it.
March is a great time to get started. The variety of birds is still pretty limited, and they all seem to be singing their hearts out. In a month or two there will be many times more species to sort out, but right now it is not as complicated.
It is not a skill most of us pick up quickly. I spent years learning the easier and common birds, in many cases re-learning the same ones the each year. Eventually, season by season, even I found I was recognizing a lot though I am far from expert at this. It is also something you never finish mastering, there is always more to learn. It becomes especially interesting when I encounter a song I do not recognize! Today I followed an unfamiliar three-note song and found a mixed flock of titmice, chickadees, nutchatches, Golden-crowned Kinglets and Brown Creepers. That song stopped so I never did identify the singer. Then another unfamiliar song started, a short rising trill, but I never managed to sort out who it was coming from. (Playing recordings later shed no more light on the question.) So a little attention to songs turned a quite morning of birding with "just the usual birds" into an intriguing (though unsolved) puzzle.
Beacon Falls, CT
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