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Interested in learning more about bird sounds? These resources will help, whether you're interested in birding by ear, learning more about bird communication, or recording and analyzing sounds. 

Audio Guides

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's regional and international audio guides are a great resource for learning birds songs and calls. Visit the Lab's audio guide page for a list of CDs and tapes.

Books

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Handbook of Bird Biology includes an extensive chapter on vocal behavior by Dr. Don Kroodsma, a leading expert on communication in birds. You can listen to the accompanying CD to hear the sounds Dr. Kroodsma discusses. This comprehensive book on bird biology is also used in the Lab's acclaimed Home Study Course in Bird Biology.


Kroodsma, D. E. The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin; 2005.

Deep Listening
To learn more about bird songs, you can practice your 'deep listening' skills. Spring is a good time to start, and early in the morning is the best time of day (maybe an hour before sunrise to really enjoy the dawn chorus). Focus on a single bird and listen to his songs. Notice the various phrases, the tone and rhythm. What are the changes from one song to the next and which phrases are repeated? As you become familiar with a particular bird or species, you'll be able to hear and recognize changes over time and start to recognize the meanings behind the sounds you hear.

A great resource for learning more about birds songs is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's audio field guide series, written by Donald Kroodsma. The books have an integrated player that allows the user to hear the song of each species. Each species description includes interesting information on the songs and calls of that bird.



Magazine Articles


Ballantine, Barbara. Swamp Sparrows: The vocal athelete. Birding. September/October 2005.

Handford, Paul. Latin Accents: Song dialects of a South American Sparrow. Birding. September/October 2005.

Software


With Raven software, you can create and explore sonograms of audio recordings. The "Raven Lite" version was designed especially for birdwatchers. Visit the Raven web page to learn more and try out a free version.

Web Sites


All About Birds Online Bird Guide--more than 500 bird species accounts, including sound recordings.

The Birds of North America Online--a subscription enables you to find detailed, authoritative information on nearly all the described vocalizations for North America's breeding birds.

The Macaulay Library--the world's largest archive of animal sounds and associated video. Listen to sounds and watch video online, order clips, and learn more about recording gear and techniques.

Old Bird--a nonprofit corporation dedicated to facilitating acoustic monitoring of avian night-flight calls. The web site includes information about how to set up your own station to record vocalizations of migrating birds.

Workshop

Learn field recording techniques from the experts! Join the Macaulay Library's week-long Sound Recording Workshop.