This week, we invite participants to Try birds by ear. Practice identifying five common species in your area by their pronunciation. Free Voice ID feature Merlin Baird ID The app can make suggestions as to which genres are calling or singing around you. (People who are deaf or hard of hearing may find Merlin spectral charts useful as a visual representation of sounds.)
Tell usIf you are an experienced birder, share tips for identifying birds by their sounds. And if you’re trying it for the first time, let us know how it goes.
Michael Herben, 56, first got into birds in his 20s. He also takes an interest in Claire Stromer, who happens to be a more experienced Sparrow. On their third date, when she mentions that she was going on a picnic with the Audubon Society, Mr. Harben learns that he met the woman for him.
“I just lost it,” he said, “because she’s been doing this her whole life.” “That was our instant bond. I wasn’t going to let her go after that.” They married in 1993, and birding became their activity together, eventually taking them to 45 countries to see new species.
But as Mr. Herben’s interest in birds and Mrs. Strommer blossomed, his vision began to deteriorate. “It was bad timing,” he said. “It really bothered me not to see the birds. I had to come to terms with that eventually.”
Although Mr. Harpen could no longer see at night and had no peripheral vision, he found a love of birds by ear. With a powerful microphone, he can identify and capture many birds without having to see them: “I said, ‘If I hear this and get a recording of it, even if I don’t see it, I’m going to be happy with it.'”
Mr. Hurben has now observed nearly half of all bird species in the world and recorded the sounds of nearly 1,000. His auditory birding skills are finely tuned. “Eventually, they started to become more like human voices,” he said.
Many birds rely heavily on their ears for identification. “It’s an experience of living in the moment,” writes Jocelyn, a participant in the Quebec Summer Birds Project. “I am very focused on the sounds, especially in the summer when the foliage is too thick to observe the birds visually.”
Another participant, Barbara, who lives in California, writes: “I’m a singer, so the idea and process of training my ears to recognize birds came naturally. I use Merlin to identify birds I’ve never heard of and to check my guesses.”
Mr. Hurben noted that Merlin Bird ID application Bird calls can be heard and possible source identified. But he said the time-tested birding method coupled with experienced auditory birds is still golden.
However you do it, birding by ear can be rewarding. “I had no other choice,” said Mr. Harbin. “You don’t need to be visually impaired to listen more. You just have to make the effort.”