– by Joanna Reuter
Spring migration is a great season to brush up on bird song as a tool for identification, but vocalizations are fascinating for more than just ID. Scientific study of bird vocalizations is leading to better understanding of bird behavior and evolution. Also, paying attention to bird sounds in the back yard can lead to interesting observations of behavior. Eric & I have another reason to delve into available bird song resources this year: We will be presenting an “Introduction to Bird Song” program on behalf of CAS at the library on July 12. Below, I’ve compiled a listing of resources that I’ve become aware of over the years; if you have other favorite bird song resources, please feel free to share them with us.
Finally, to further emphasize how much remains to be learned about the birds around us, there is now a citizen science project seeking observations about and recordings of female bird song. They are seeking field notes and recordings of female bird song for a large number of species. Many of these are tropical, but quite a few live or spend time in Missouri, including Northern Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Grey Catbird, Common Yellowthroat, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, American Goldfinch, White-eyed Vireo, Eastern Meadowlark, and Wood Thrush; a complete list is available. Recordings representing “matched samples of males and females from the same geographic location and the same time of year are immensely valuable.” Simply becoming more aware of female bird song can enhance the birding experience. For example, Eric & I recently used sonagrams to figure out that an odd (to us) song was probably a female House Wren singing a female-specific pattern distinct from the more common male song. There are a lot of interesting things to be learned about and from females if we pay them due attention!