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How to ID a Bird: Step 5 -- voice

Can you hear it?

Since itís often easier to hear birds than to see them, youíll identify more birds than you could with binoculars alone if you learn to recognize their vocalizations.

These can be divided into two categories: songs and calls. Songs are usually given by adult males on their territory during the nesting season, though they may also be heard during migration and, in some species, during the winter as well. Calls or call notes are generally simpler and often given throughout the year in a variety of situations to express alarm, to maintain contact with other members of a flock, or during interactions with a mate or young.

Most field guides give phonetic descriptions of bird calls which may seem a little strange when you first read them: What exactly does "cheer-lee" sound like?

Listen to the samples below and compare them with the description:

Black Phoebe Song is a thin, "buzzy pi-tsee", usually repeated. Call is a sharp, down-slurred "chip".

Western Bluebird Soft calls sound like "phew" and "chuck". Song is a short, subdued "cheer, cheer-lee churr".

Listen to over 500 bird songs and calls in our Bird Audio section.



How to ID a Bird:

A quiet, melodious, cheerful "chur-lee" is being made by the mystery bird.