| STORY BY MEGHAN MCMAHON |
Nature’s soundtrack changes with the seasons, but birds can be heard at least to some extent all year long. The cacophony of birds is greatest in spring, as they sing out looking for potential mates, but if you listen closely you’ll hear birds despite the season.
When you hear them, though, you might not know who exactly you are hearing. While many have distinct songs and calls, birds can be more challenging to identify by sound than by sight.
A good place to start with learning birds by their songs is our most common birds. After all, these are the birds you probably hear more often, maybe even without realizing it.
As you begin to learn to identify birds by their songs, there will be some trial and error. That's why it's a good idea to have an app on your phone that you can use for reference and comparison. Some highly regarded birding apps that include bird songs and calls are the Audubon Bird Guide, iBird Pro Guide to Birds and Merlin Bird ID. The Merlin Bird ID app even has a feature in which you can record a bird's call or song and the app will try to identify it for you.
As you start to listen to birds all around you and then look up their calls online or on an app, you may notice that bird songs and calls are often said to sound like the bird is saying something specific as a mechanism for helping people remember. For example, barred owls are said to say "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?" while many people say black-capped chickadees sound like they are singing "cheeeeeese-bur-ger." What you hear, though, may be different than these commonly used comparisons, so don't be afraid to create your own handy tricks to remember each bird call.
To get you started with learning bird songs, here are some of the most commonly heard melodies in and around our yards and in the preserves.