Thursday, June 27, 2013

Finding the Rhythm - Identifying Bird Calls

Hey Nature Journalers!,

It's been a while since I last updated, but I'm still here! I've been keeping busy interning for a local non-profit that fundraises for local parks/recreation/education programs and learning some new things along the way like basic web design and e-mail marketing skills. Transitioning to life outside of school and trying to find a job in the difficult economy has been challenging, but I've been constantly reminded that keeping a connection with nature is essential for well-being.

A few days ago I was listening to robin calls for a half-hour or so, but there was one song I was hearing that I didn't recognize right away and it drove me crazy trying to figure it out. I knew that it couldn't possibly be a robin call, but it didn't sound quite like a wren call. The weather was overcast and rainy, but there were a surprising amount of birds active despite the weather.

I did some internet searching to try and figure it out using some free search engines (like and eventually figured that it sounded exactly like a Wilson's Warbler call. I grabbed my binoculars and went outside trying to and confirm my idea, but instead I saw a male American Goldfinch (which has an even more complex-sounding set of calls!). It seems that many species of birds were all singing at the same time and perching in the same area.

It's a birder's task to separate the layers of sound to make the correct identification. It's somewhat easy to visually memorize birds from a field guide (but even more difficult using those skills to identify in the field), but learning to identify birds by sound is even more difficult.

Some birds species have many different calls depending on the situation - alarm calls, songs, etc. What I've noticed is that certain bird species have a similar sort of "rhythm" - like the bubbly chatter of wrens. Also, it's sometimes easier to imagine bird calls as words, like the "cheerily, cheeriup, cheerio, cheeriup" American Robin song, or the "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" Black-Capped Chickadee alarm call.

I'm going to try and update my blog more often from now on - so until next time!

Happy Journaling!

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