About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Bird is Singing Outside My Window: How to identify birds' songs

@birdsunlimited Any good starting tips for identifying what is singing outside my window in the morning? Mason, MI

Identifying birds by ear is a skill that you can learn with a little practice.

1. There are a lot of learning devices. Wild Birds Unlimited has bird song CDs available including one that has Michigan birds only. And the Backyard Birdsong Guide is a very popular book that allows you to enjoy bird songs at the touch of a button while reading vivid descriptions of their songs, calls, and related behaviors. On the internet BirdJam.com and AllAboutBirds.com can also be good sources to investigate.

2. Look at the most likely suspects first. The dawn chorus in April and May is when some birds sing louder and more vigorously than they do at other times of the day to defend a breeding territory or attract a mate. The American Robin, Northern Cardinal, European Starling, Blue Jay and American Crow are some of the earliest risers in my neighborhood.

3. When you hear a bird's song, describe it to yourself. Most woodpeckers have a song that sounds like a laugh, ha, ha, ha. Starlings can mimic almost anything and usually have a long rambling variety of whistles, squawks and screeches. Cardinals usually think their pretty, pretty, pretty or sing wake-up, wake-up ... what, what, what, what. Robins’ cheery-up, cheerio is very loud in the morning but I find it very nice. With Blue Jays and crows it’s less about singing for a mate and more about communicating. You’ll hear one bird call out to another bird from their group using loud jay, jay, jay or caw, caw, caw to find out where the best breakfast is being served.
4. During the day, take time to look up when you hear a bird singing. If you can see the bird singing it is sometimes easier to recall later. Right now I see the House Sparrow chip, chip, chipping, a Black-capped Chickadee calling feeee-bee, a Chipping Sparrow is trilling away, and the Cedar Waxwings are squealing. This is along with all the traffic noise and ambulance sirens.

I hope you’re not too upset with the birds’ songs. The guys are just full of energy and enthusiasm for the coming breeding season!

"Birdwatching is a sanctioned voyeurism." Jonathan Rosen ~ The Life of the Skies

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!!!!
I have wished to recognize birds by ear all my life, but I did not know how learn this skill.
I love your blog, I always read but never comment because of my bad English.
Too bad you are in America and not in Europe.