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Bird Calls
Birding uses all of your senses, but mainly your eyes and ears. You might be surprised how important your ears can become when birding. Some of the best birders can close their eyes and tell you exactly which birds are nearby just from their sounds!

Listening for birds can be difficult and depends on a few things. How well you can hear, and if the bird is calling!
How to listen to birdsong
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.
Keep quiet
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”
Have fun
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”.
What kind of bird calls are there?
There are a few main sounds that most birds have; a Call, an Alarm, a Song and a Flight call.
Call
This is the main call of the bird and is made most often for a variety of reasons. This is often used to contact others of the same species, or make its presence known to other birds. An Baltimore Oriole or European Robin is a good example of this.
Alarm
This is a call made as a warning to birds of the same species and those close by that a predator or threat is close. A Common Blackbird or American Robin is a good example of this.
Song
This is a main call of the bird, usually the male, for mating and breeding purposes. This is a way to advertise to females that they are the best male, or other males as a territory claiming call. A recognisable song is the Eurasian Wren or American Robin.
Flight
This is a song made in flight. Some birds will call whilst flying. A sound you might have heard is White Wagtail or House Finch.
There are some other sounds you might hear too:
Territory
These are used to advertise and defend territories
Food
These are sounds to others of the same species to advertise an abundance of food. An example is the Common Starling.
Imitation
This is a mimic call, this can be used for several reasons; to scare other species from the food or as part of an intense and long mating song. An example of this is the Song Thrush or Northern Mockingbird.
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