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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ear Birding Season

I usually wait until the first week of April before posting about ear-birding, but Spring migration appears to be running ahead of schedule.

Cherry blossoms aren't the only things arriving early this year. Here is Cornell's eBird BirdCast Migration Forecast for this week:

"Expect another week of record early arrivals and large numbers of migrants across much of the continent. Mild conditions will dominate away from the far west where unsettled weather will continue. A large high pressure system will once again become the dominant weather system through almost the entire forecast period with a prolonged period of southerly winds stretching from the Rockies to the East Coast. The Pacific Northwest will continue to see one low pressure system after another marching in off the ocean, with stormy conditions the general rule. Even the normally dry Southwest could see a low pressure system and precipitation early next week before returning to more tranquil weather. This low pressure system will move into the central U.S by the middle of the week with unsettled weather likely."

Read the entire report here.

I thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone of the importance of exercising one's ears in preparation for the Spring songbird chorus. For those of you who have participated in one of my walks, you know how important sound is for me in locating and identifying songbirds. That ability is available to anyone with decent hearing and the help of a great learning tool - Peterson's Birding By Ear series. This isn't a commercial for Peterson's (I don't make any money off of CD sales), I just believe it is the best tool available for learning and appreciating bird vocalizations. There are two sets of discs for eastern birds - "Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central" and "More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central." You'll need both to have all the relevant species. Below is a chart of the tracks that I think you will benefit most from by learning. It's not difficult. The tracks are divided into similar sounding songs with simple mnemonics given, as well as, repetition and comparisons. If you don't have iTunes on your computer, you can download it for free (you can certainly use other music software, but iTunes is easy). After it is installed, just import the suggested tracks below and create a playlist of the eight tracks. I find that it also helps to look at the birds in your field guide as you are listening, to associate the sound with the image. I promise that if you listen to these tracks every other day for the next two weeks, you will surprise yourself at how easily you'll identify some of these birds.

Track Name CD Title 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

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