[CT Birds] Listening

Roy Harvey 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.

Roy Harvey
Beacon Falls, CT

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