Be where the birds are
The best way to start is by heading outside to a natural area and listening quietly. You might hear chirps, whistles, screeches and hoots, but each bird species has their own, often unique call. Once you know the basics, it’ll be easy to pick up the rest.
The more you listen whilst keeping quiet, the more comfortable birds will be near you. Less noise = less chance they’ll think you’re a predator.
Again and again
What really helps is repetition; the more you hear a bird, the better it's committed to memory, like the lyrics to your favourite song. What might help here is using your phone to voice record the bird you’re hearing. This can also help later on when you’re trying to work out your bird.
Find your bird
Once you’ve heard your bird, try to find it in the dense foliage. See if you can spot it just by listening to it. One of the Birda team has some great advice for this - “Pretend that you’re an owl; cup your ears and make them bigger, you’ll be surprised how much this helps angle yourself to the direction of the bird”One of the Birda team has some great advice for this - “Pretend that you’re an owl; cup your ears and make them bigger, you’ll be surprised how much this helps angle yourself to the direction of the bird”
Once you’ve seen your bird and heard it’s song, find some fun way to remember, for example, a Great tit sounds like a “squeaky gate, or saying ‘Tea-cher, tea-cher’”.
Ask for help
If you’re not sure, the best thing to do is ask other birders for help. Show them your recording or try to describe it best you can. Who knows, they might have the perfect way to remember for next time. For example, a European Yellowhammer sounds like it’s saying “a little bit of bread and no cheese”.