With the onset of Spring, the natural world really bursts into life and wherever we may live birdsong intensifies and provides a melodious soundtrack to the new season. Jon Carter from RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve suggests ways of getting the best of this natural orchestra.
Why do the birds sing?
Spring is the time of birdsong. Whether in towns, suburbs or the countryside we are never far from the varied sounds of birds communicating with one another. At this time of year, the primary purpose of birdsong is to establish territory and secure a mate for the breeding season and as spring progresses the sheer volume of male birds competing with one another reaches fever pitch. Resident species will start singing early in the season, and such familiar birds as robins, song thrushes and blackbirds will be amongst the first to declare their intentions. As we head through April and May newly arrived migrants, will add their unique voices to the avian chorus.
Are you up for the challenge?
The very sound of this spring overture can vary enormously, depending on where one hears it. As different birds inhabit different places, so the sound of the songsters in woodlands will differ to that, say, in open farmland, a city park or reed bed. And while most of us are able to enjoy the beauty of birdsong, identifying the individuals responsible for the myriad sounds can be something of a challenge! But there is great joy to be had from learning birdsong and let’s be honest, you don’t need to commit every single one to memory. Even some of the most experienced birdwatchers and naturalists struggle to identify every bird sound, so you’re in good company if you find identifying birds by sound something of a trial.
Remember their song – put words to sounds
Some simple methods can be used to aid the retention of birdsong – for example, once you know that a great tit emits a loud ‘teacher-teacher’ or that a song thrush always repeats loud melodic phrases it does become slightly easier. The rather sombre coo-ing of a collared dove can remembered as ‘united-united’ (or you might prefer ‘delighted-delighted’ depending on your football allegiances). Some common birds such as chiffchaff rather handily sing their own name, (‘chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff’) while others such as blackcap have a complex song that sounds very like that of the garden warbler, giving birders a further challenge each spring. There are multiple online platforms that allow listeners to hear recordings of bird sounds and the RSPB website has a ‘Bird A-Z’ which includes the songs of most birds you’re likely to hear. Have a listen and see how many you can recognise.
Local guided Bird Walks
You can always join one of our guided walks such as ‘Birdsong for Beginners’ or the ever-popular ‘Dawn Chorus walk’ and benefit from experts who will help you pick out different songs and calls and identify hidden songsters.
Find out more by visiting the ‘Activities and Events’ page at rspb.org.uk/LeightonMoss and remember, even if you can’t identify the singer you can still always enjoy the song!
RSPB article on Song Thrushes HERE
RSPB Leighton Moss is closed during the COVID-19 isolation period, please check their website for details by clicking the advert below. They will welcome visitors again once restrictions are lifted.