The Basics of Identifying Bird Sounds

A singing Canada Warbler

Learning bird songs is one of the most important, and most challenging, skills for a birder to develop. There is some level of innate skill and hearing ability involved, but most of what is required is simply practice and study. It is similar to learning a foreign language, and with a little bit of effort anyone can expect incremental progress towards fluency.

New pages will be added here periodically, building into a series of pages discussing different aspects of identifying and understanding the songs and calls of birds.


Introduction: Learning to listen to bird songs

Pitch, and bird song identification

Tempo, and bird song identification

Understanding Quality, in bird song identification

Describing Quality

Trilled Songs of Eastern Birds

Planned for future posts:

More on the fundamental variables of bird song


Understanding bird language

Taxonomy and bird songs

And more…

3 thoughts on “The Basics of Identifying Bird Sounds”

  1. Trying to identify a large black bird somewhat like a raven in appearance, but sings beautifully, and from the sounds of things, also tap dances (on my tin roof)….please help. I am in NM,that’s when I started seeing this bird. The dancing started a couple of days ago.

  2. I reside in Nevada and am familiar with a medium size bird with a white tail and grey body that has eight distinct sounds, quite appealing songs really but I do not know the bird’s name.

  3. Hattiesburg MS October 2020. At my bird feeder is a little black, gray and white, with a long break like a carolina wren, sounds like the squeak of a rubber dog toy. Flies with the carolina black cap chick a dee and ruffed tit mouse. Eats black oil sunflower seeds. Please ID this bird can’t find on any other bird sites. Thank you for your assistance.

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