You may be wondering why I’m going on about garden birds so much, when this is a blog about ‘getting out there’. Basically, watching your garden birds, really paying attention, is a crash course for watching birds in the wild. All the stuff you’ll take onboard, about how different types of birds move, flight patterns, feeding styles, calls, song, it will all help you ID birds better.
Birdsong is a particularly useful tool for identification. I’ve already touched on this by mentioning the woodpecker call the other day. Some birds you will encounter can be very tricky to separate visually. But they have distinctive songs, and this will allow you to separate Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff for example.
You may, or may not, get warblers in your garden (I’ve seen Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, and Lesser Whitethroat in gardens). But just learning how to identify birdsong, how to pin it to a singer, how to locate it, will all be useful. It’s not something I can teach you online, you need to just stand quietly and listen. Without ever really trying to learn it, I can identify dozens of species by song/call alone.
There are plenty of good resources for listening to birdsong. The RSPB Website has a bird A-Z and most pages have a recording of song. If you are feeling flush, you could buy a CD/Book guide as well, such as the Collins Field Guide.
The humble, drab, mousey Dunnock has one of my favourite songs. I also love the more plaintive end of Blackbird song, especially on a summer evening. Another favourite would be the Goldfinch, which sounds like a childs toy, one you shake to make a noise.
What is your favourite bird song?