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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Birding by Ear

It's time to clear the cobwebs off our eardrums and prepare for the songbird migration. By that I mean, if you don't already own them, purchase the Peterson's "Birding by Ear" series of recordings and bone up on your ear birding. If you have reasonably good hearing, I guarantee that even a little bit of effort with these discs will pay off in a big way, giving you a greater appreciation of the dozens of species of songbirds that migrate through our area.

The discs aren't just recordings of bird songs and calls, they are very well designed lessons that group birds by sound types. Mnemonics for many songs make remembering them a cinch. For New York City (and state) birders, you need to purchase both the "Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central Region" and "More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central" sets to have all the warblers. If you don't have iTunes on your computer, download it for free from from the Apple website. iTunes will allow you to create sets of tracks from the "Birding by Ear" discs, making it much easier to navigate the 6 discs of lessons. (If you use a different MP3 application, that should suffice.) Below are 7 tracks that I listen to every year before the warblers arrive. The eighth track is the empidonax flycatchers. These birds are notoriously difficult to tell apart visually, but their very distinct calls solves that least in the Spring. I also recommend that you create a track for these thrushes:

Veery, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Bicknell's Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush

A really good source for recordings of Bicknell's Thrush (which is not so good on the BBE discs) are Vermont Center for Ecostudies "Mountain Birdwatch".

Now get to it! The warblers should all be here any day now...

Name Album Disc # Track #
Sing-songers Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 1 4
Warbling Songsters Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 6
Wood Warblers and a Warbling Wren Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 1
Warblers: Buzzy More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 1
Warblers: Simple More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 2
Warblers: Two-Parted More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 3
Warblers: Complex More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 4
Empidonax Flycatchers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 1 4

1 comment:

Phil Mitchell said...

These are great suggestions -- the Peterson's discs are excellent! We'd love to have you also try Larkwire, a totally new way to learn bird songs. Larkwire uses groups of similar songs, but integrated into a game-based learning engine that makes the learning process super-efficient.

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