Start Birdwatching Today: What is that Sound?

Birds are very vocal at times and they give us a great clue as to what bird it is. Eventually as you become better in your birdwatching adventures, it will help to learn some of their sounds and noises.

As you are observing birds that are singing or calling, you can learn to associate that sound to that bird. That is the beginning and it is almost automatic. When you hear a bird, but do not see it, then you will either recall one you have seen and be able to ID it, or you can start studying the sounds so the next time you can know what the unseen bird is.

There are several methods that birders use. Audio CDs and computer programs have Bird sounds along with photos of the bird to assist your learning.

The Internet has places like the WhatBird, All About Birds, Birding by Ear Basics,

Here is an interesting video about blind people birding by ear. Very interesting.

Here are some of the birds you may already know. These are local birds here, but also seen around other parts of the country. Also a very nice verse to remember while “birding by sound.” I used this verse when taking my General Amateur License test that was all Morse Code. It helped calm my heart even though it refers to the Lord hearing us, but it helped me to hear those dots and dashes. (Only 8 of 115 of us passed the test that day.)

LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: (Psalms 10:17 KJV)

All of these sounds are coming from the website.

Blue Jay in tree at Hampton Pines

Blue Jay in tree at Hampton Pines

Blue Jay

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) by Daves BirdingPix

Northern Cardinal

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) at Lake Howard, Winter Haven, Florida By Dan’sPix

Boat-tailed Grackle

Red-winged Blackbird at Bok Sanctuary

Red-winged Blackbird at Bok Sanctuary

Red-winged Blackbird

Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) by BirdsInFocus

Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) by BirdsInFocus

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Great Horned Owl – Lowry Pk Zoo by Lee

Great Horned Owl

How many did you all ready know?

Some like to put words to their sounds like these from Birding By Ear — Bird Song Identification

Listen here to a few bird songs and calls that have good mnemonic phrases:
Eastern Towhee — “Drink your tea-ea-ea”
Whip-poor-will — The name says it all.
Black-capped chickadee — Some music and talk first, then the “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee”
White throated sparrow — “Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody”
Black-throated green warbler — “Zee zee zee zoo zee”
Barred Owl — “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”

All About Birds
Birding by Ear Basics

Start Birdwatching Today Series


9 thoughts on “Start Birdwatching Today: What is that Sound?

  1. Pingback: The Bird of the Most Beautiful Song « the story behind the faces

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  3. I think I remember having that game. Been awhile. Should have used it more, then maybe I would be better at sounds. Sorry about the Whip-poor-will.


  4. I learned many bird calls when I was a kid by playing a birdwatching PC game. (I think it was actually called “Bird Watcher.”) It included a massive catalog of color plates as well as snippets of bird calls. I was able to learn by association but I also learned from just watching birds sing. I do have to say I miss the whip-poor-will’s call; I used to hear them where I live when I was very young but years of stray dogs running loose through the neighborhood has chased them away for good.


    • No, ours doesn’t. We actually chose to do it this way to avoid the temptation of movie watching. We got rid of our tv years ago, but had felt the computer was turning into one. I do miss having the ability to learn how to ID birds from their songs. On the computer I could pick individual birds, but on the CD, I have to listen to a chunk of different ones within a “track”. I don’t want to complain though. :)


  5. We use a couple of different CDs to ID birds, but crazily neither contained the Harris’s sparrow, which confused us for some time this spring into thinking it was a White-throated. It was only after it sang out in the open we saw who it really was.

    The CDs have helped in some cases, but the Flycatchers sound rather similar to me, so not much help there. :) Our computer doesn’t have sound either. I kind of miss listening to birds on here.


  6. Pingback: In Praise of Point Pelee – a Birdwatcher’s Love Song | afternoonstorm

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