Written by Andrea Wirth & Jeanne Tinsman, all photos by David Anderson @thewildsights
On Sunday, May 9, Jeanne T. led a small group in learning about how to identify birds by sound (“birding by ear”) at Wetlands Park. This is the first trip like this RRAS has done in a while and it was a nice change to get out and test our listening skills in new ways. We began with an introduction to some birding by ear resources (provided below) and by sharing our own experiences listening to birdsong and calls. Jeanne shared the enchantment of listening to American Robins sing in the evening as a child. Nearly all the stories were of relatively common birds, bringing a new kind of joy and discovery to our birding experiences even when staying close to home.
After introductions we headed into the park, where we listened to (as well as watched) a variety of birds. We heard birds that are regulars such as Greater Roadrunners, Northern Mockingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and Verdins. We discussed birds that are a little more challenging to identify by sight or sound and how sound can be the definitive clue to some identifications. One example of this is effectively distinguishing between several members of the Empidonax genus of flycatchers.
A few of the birds we tuned our ears to included:
Left Photo: Greater roadrunners can be heard clapping their bills and making “coo-coo-coo” sounds. (photo by D. Anderson) Alt Text: Greater Roadrunner with a bug in its bill