Sibley's Guide to Birding by Ear
by Nate Swick
If I could, I'd probably plug David Sibley's wonderful blog every day of the week and Sunday. And as it's Sunday, I'll just go ahead a plug it now. Recently he's published the initial posts of a fascinating series, and one individual post, that are worthy of any ABA Blog reader's time.
The second part first.
David has created a slideshow illustrating the changes the ubiquitous American Goldfinch goes through over the course of a year. We're all well-familiar with the seemingly instant switch from dull beige to screaming yellow, but there's far more going on there that you might realize. My favorite revelation? Watch the wingbars wear away over the course of the summer...
Illustration (c) David Sibley
Now to convince David to illustrate every North American species this way.
And second (or first), in a post last week, contributor Blake Mathys wrote about the fears many birders have with regard to the seeming impossibility of identifying birds by sound. At his own blog, David has begun what looks to be a regular series on things to consider to hopefully become more comfortable with the often intimidating practice.
To learn bird songs, it is first important just to notice bird sounds. Train yourself to hear them and to hear the differences. Take a minute periodically while you are birding to stop, relax, maybe close your eyes, and just listen. Don’t try to identify the species at first, but listen for patterns and try to distinguish the different sounds you are hearing. Even if you can’t identify the species, just knowing that three species are vocalizing is a very important bit of information and is the first step towards identifying those species.
There's much more and it's well worth a read. So get to it.