How to Identify Bird Calls
The last few dawns have sounded like spring (in spite of the snow we’ve been having). The birds are getting excited and so am I!
I’ll be renewing my efforts to learn bird calls this year. Here are some suggestions on how to become an auditory birding expert.
Books and CDs:
- The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Eastern and Central North America by Donald Kroodsma – Well made, appropriate for adults or kids
- The Backyard Birdsong Guide: Western North America by Donald Kroodsma – The western bird version of this book
- Bird Calls (Hear and There Books) by Frank Gallo – Ideal for a window seat next to a bird feeder
- Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song by Les Beletsky – Thorough, well-illustrated, and full of information
- Peterson Birding by Ear: Eastern and Central North America – A 3 CD set that even teaches the birds by habitat
- Peterson Birding by Ear: Western North America – This western version contains sounds for 91 species
- Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs: Eastern Region – 3 CD set & booklet that covers 372 species of birds
- Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs: Western Region – I couldn’t find the unabridged version
Gadgets and Tools:
- Bird Song Identiflyer – My daughter loves this little field-worthy device that you insert cards into and play the sounds of different species
- Identiflyer Bird Song Alarm Clock – Wakes you using the same cards as the field Identiflyer
- Identiflyer Cards – Get more species cards for your Identiflyer
- I Flyer – This pocket-sized book and electric scanner pen play the sounds of birds and frogs
- Remembird Digital Recorder – High tech device that lets you record bird calls in the field or play from a memory card audio dictionary
- Audubon Bird Call Whistle – Use it to talk to the birds
- Audubon Bird Call – A different bird call making tool
Free Online Sources:
- eNature – 550+ species of North American birds and their calls
- Bird Jam – Songs/calls recorded by the same person who does the eastern Stokes audio field guide
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Bird calls with spectrogram images
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Macaulay Library – World’s largest animal sound & video archive
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds – A searchable directory with bird calls from Cornell
- Patuxent Bird Identification – US Government bird calls inventory
Places to Go Birding:
- Birding Hotspots by State – Find the best places to go birding near you (this website also has international info)
- Best Birding in the Appalachian Mountains – Appalachian Voice article on ideal birding sites
- South Carolina State Parks – I have incredible luck at Edisto Beach State Park
- South Carolina Heritage Preserves – The heritage preserves get less traffic and are excellent for birding
- North Carolina State Parks – Plenty of birding opportunities
- North Carolina Birding Trail – A trail that cuts across the entire state!
- Tennessee State Parks – Edgar Evins State Park is supposed to be loaded with birds in the spring
- Georgia State Parks – This webpage also lists historic sites
- State Parks of the US – A directory of all United States Parks
- United States National Park Service – Our national parks are often good birding locations as well
I’d also like to include a local mention for Lake Conestee Nature Park in Greenville, SC. Spring birding at this park is unbelievably rewarding, as is the Florida-like wetlands area with boardwalks and observation decks. There is also an attractive meadow maintained with bluebird boxes. You can view a species list (scroll down and click on the updated link) to get an idea of what you might see there. It’s one of my favorite destinations year-round!
Happy birding! I’d love to hear about your experiences or your recommendations!