By contributing writer Colleen
Summer’s finally here and the birds are singing. Isn’t it a blessing to head outside in the morning with a cup of coffee to soak in the sun and hear the birds chirping greetings to one another?
What does it mean, though? Birdsong is important for birds’ survival.
- It identifies species.
- It tells if a bird is male or female.
- It scares predators away from egg-filled nests.
Birds sing different songs depending on what they are trying to communicate. Each one tells a different story.
Learning to observe wild birds is part seeing and part hearing. Many species look similar, and some hide out of sight altogether. If you are interested in learning more about the winged creatures that hang out near you, it is important to identify their songs.
There are many CDs and websites that teach listeners about the different sounds birds make. They share examples of these calls so that you can learn to identify the birds in your area. But one of the best ways to learn to identify different birdsong is to listen to the birds themselves.
Get outside. And then set up this simple activity.
Identifying Bird Calls Activity
- Recorder equipped with microphone (A digital recorder would be a great tool for this activity. You can record, and then upload the sounds to your computer and save them in the .mp3 format.)
- Thin rope or string
- Bird field guide
- Nature journal
- Pen or pencil
- Watch or timer
- Find a quiet place that is visited by a lot of birds.
- Using rope or string, tie your recorder onto a pole or tree. Near a feeder or nest would work well.
- Turn the recorder on.
- Locate an out-of-the-way spot nearby, and sit down with a nature journal.
- Close your eyes, be still, and listen.
- Record the sounds you hear in your journal. Try to replicate the sounds as closely as you can. (For example, a chickadee makes a chick-a-dee-dee-dee sound.)
- Spend as long as you can quietly listening and recording the sounds you hear.
- When you have finished, use your bird book, recordings, written observations, and the Internet if necessary to identify the birds you heard.
- Write the species names in your journal near the written interpretations of the sounds you heard, and then make a complete list of all the birds you heard during your observation period.
For added fun, revisit the area at different times of the day and throughout the season to see if species change, if their songs are different, and to note any other observations you can.
Birding is a great family-friendly activity. It’s frugal and fun for all ages.
Does your family already love birds? What other nature activities do you do as a family?