Twelve Days of Christmas: #4

Four Calling Birds

By Teresa Woodard

Have you ever wondered what bird is making that caw, screech, cuckoo or who-cooks-for-you sound? Well, celebrate the Fourth Day of Christmas by downloading one of the latest birding apps. A Heartland Gardening favorite is Merlin by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Simply answer five questions and the app will come with a list of possible matches. From here, you can further explore thousands of audio files and images. For beginning birders, the lab offers these tips.

  • Watch and listen. When you see a bird singing, the connection between bird and song tends to stick in your mind.

  • Learn from an expert. It’s much harder to learn bird songs from scratch than to have a fellow bird watcher point them out to you. Check for a local Audubon chapter and join a field trip.  The Columbus chapter hosts a “Birding by Ear” workshop on Feb. 26.

  • Listen to recordings. Start by listening to recording of birds you see often. Play them frequently to make the sounds stick.
  • Say it to yourself. Some songs sound like words like the Barred Owl’s “Who cooks for you?” These mnemonics can make a song easier to remember.

  • Details, details, details. Break the song apart into its different qualities, including rhythm, pitch, tone and repetition. For more info, see the Lab or Ornithology.

Join other volunteers in the National Audubon Society’s 115th Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 14 – Jan. 5.

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