April 3, 2013

March bird song – learn it early

The morning sky is again held up with sound. Winter’s cruel quiet a mix of breath and stars has given way to a small but hardy morning chorus of bird song. Birds like the Red-winged blackbird have returned to Southern New England and joined the songs of the Northern Cardinal and Tufted titmouse. The east coast awaits a May deluge of southern migrants making these mornings a good time to learn the songs of the more common birds. Listen in particular for the “laser tag” blasts of the Northern cardinal and the “peter-peter” of the Tufted titmouse. Birds sing for many reasons and spring is the time for both courtship and nest site selection and singing males are most likely working both angles although the Northern cardinal represents one of a few North American female songsters.

Though it is called “bird watching”, bird song plays just as important a role in locating and identifying birds. “Bird listening” could be just as good a name. Especially, with the perfectly timed return of the twitchy migrants like warblers with the bursting out of leaves, song can be the only clue to answer the where and what. In anticipation of the coming influx spend some time listening to bird songs in particular those of warblers, vireos, and thrushes. It will pay dividends come May when the trees and air are filled with song.

bio and contact

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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