Developing Your “Birder’s Ear”
Ever chase a bird song in the canopy of tall oaks then chase it until the bird stops singing? Ever sit in your backyard and hear a strange bird song in the distance? In both cases you had no chance to see the bird. In both cases you wondered what it was. All birds vocalize and for songbirds song is necessary for species survival. A unique biology found only in birds lies behind bird song and communication. The genetics that drive bird vocalizations are not very different than humans.
You likely already appreciate the sweet complexity of bird song. Once upon a time birders and nature lovers learned bird songs, calls and chips to identify birds. This “ear” for the sounds of nature used to be a skill those who enjoyed the outdoors developed.
Advances in personal optics aided visual bird ID. Birding skill moved from hearing to close scans for field marks. Binoculars and illustrated field guides made birding accessible. We birders have many precise terms for visually describing birds but have no common language to explain the bird song we hear. The skill of birding-by-ear (BBE) diminished.
This presentation will provide a slice of insight into bird song vocalizations and a strategy for developing your birder’s ear skill. It is open to birders of all skill levels. Skilled birders are welcome to share their birding by ear learning experience.
The one-hour presentation will be followed by a 15 minute break and then a trip by bus to the oaks of Kempner Park and, time permitting, Corps Woods in search of bird sound.