Thursday, February 26, 2009


You all know I’m a fairly new birder…and still learning to identify most birds; not to mention their calls. Lately, I’ve heard a song that sounds a lot like the "Mar-co --
Po-lo" call that kids call back and forth when playing the hide-and-seek game. I never could see the bird (believing it was something new), but regularly have heard the call. I often answered it with a whistle, but suspect the ‘answer’ was more likely to another I’d hear a couple yards over.

A birding pal, Dave Moore, suggested it might be a Black-capped Chickadee; but this sounded nothing like the "chick-a-dee-dee-dees" or the 'seets', and chatter that I’m used to hearing from the little black and white birds.

However, I happen to have a copy of Ted Floyd’s Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America, a rather large ‘field guide’, but certainly worth having for the several beautiful photographs of each bird; great for research. Probably even better, if that’s possible, is the accompanying CD which holds 587 down loadable bird songs…again, several songs for each bird covered.

Because of Dave’s suggestion, I popped in the CD and headed right for the BLCACH foulder (is that the abbreviation for this bird?) The first recording I clicked on was the exact call I’ve been hearing! Who knew? Wow! Seems most birds have several calls…kind of like discovering (on my own) that crows also make a weird rattling sound I heard when they were mobbing an owl, in addition to their caw-caw we most often hear. That was easy to confirm though, because I was watching the birds.

I just love learning this stuff. One of the things I learned from another lovely little book; "Finding Your Wings: A Workbook for Beginning Bird Watchers, by Burton Guttman, is to be ready to identify birds. The author suggests reading about and knowing which birds to expect. I plan to spend more time listening to bird calls while I'm reading about the birds. I'm quite sure this will further help me learn to identify what I hear and see while out bird watching. Whoo hoo!

Thanks again Dave!

And thanks to Ted Floyd who gave me the permission to post the call here...but then I couldn't figure out how to upload the file. Grrrrrrr; pictures yes, sound files no. You can hear the call on Cornell's site, here.

Addendum; Because of Bosque Bill's comments, I've added a link to a page with a whole bunch of different Chickadee calls. It's a wonderful page; check it out!

Photo from Wikipedia


Debbie said...

I've been trying to pay more attention to the bird songs. I can recognize my "regulars" now - pine siskins, hairy woodpecker, mountain chickadee. I think my husband will kill you for mentioning another book. I can see that one in my future.

I've had rosies at the feeder all day today (it's snowing). Interesting to watch them because they hang around in flocks. Seem to be quite skittish. I do get an odd straggler now and again. Maybe he's the scout.

Beverly said...

LOL Perhaps you can suggest buying the CD. For the price, it's worth it...and wow, it comes wrapped in a book!!! ;)

Yes, I've noticed and read, too, that the Rosies are pretty flighty. Unlike the piggies, which will feed just inches from where I'm standing.

Bosque Bill said...

Most birds have many vocalizations, but the Black-capped chickadee seems to have more than most. It also has a burbling melody that is quite delightful and way different from its eponymous call.

Ted Floyd's Smithsonian Field Guide is a treasure (though a bit heavy to actually carry in the field.) I love the photos and the high quality paper and binding are unequaled.

Years ago I took a "birding by ear" class out in California which probably did more to improve my birding and enjoyment there of than any other single thing.

Beverly said...

Hiya Bill! Good to ‘see’ you again.

I couldn’t agree more about Ted’s new book; mostly I leave it home and use it for reference work when I’m writing. Still, the idea of listening to its calls while I read about a specific bird is really a boon for remembering.

I’m sure I’d love such a class as you describe. Because of the comments you’ve left here, I’ve added another link to the piece. It’s an awesome page; highly educational (my cup o’tea).

Thanks again!!!

Debbie said...

Shameless enablers, both of you. I've ordered the book and CD. It will be here on Monday.

Beverly said...

LOL Debbie! Yer so funny...

I know you're going to enjoy the book AND the CD...and ya know, in my world a person can't have too many books!