Being able to identify the songs, calls, and other auditory components of a species' repertoire adds a new dimension to birding. These resources can help you learn and improve your skills.
Sound recording libraries
Databases to listen to bird sound recordings.
- Most digital versions of bird books now include vocalizations as part of their app or website. Merlin (under the Explore Birds option) is a free app that provides a few vocalizations for each species.
- xeno-canto - a database of bird sounds from around the globe which is great for understanding regional variation in songs and for obtaining vocalizations for locations where there are few published resources. Free.
- Macaulay Library - Easily accessed from the various resources provided by Cornell Lab of Ornithology (eBird, Merlin, All About Birds, etc) Macaulay Library is a premier collection of wildlife media. Most resources are free.
Automatic sound identification
Recent advances in AI song recognition have resulted in a number of automatic bird call ID resources. Many of the algorithms are still being perfected so identification needs to be considered provisional but they can be great resources for learning.
Tools to learn/quiz vocalizations
There are numerous resources available. Here are a few that members of the CFO board use.
- eBirds photo/sound quiz - choose between a photo or sound ID challenge and select the time of year and location you want to be quizzed on. Free
- Larkwire - app (iOS/Apple only) or website versions. Designed for learning. Create custom lists or choose to focus on specific taxa or locations. Subscription.
Visual tools for learning bird sounds
Spectrograms are visual representations of sound with frequency represented on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis. Visualizing the spectrogram of the song or call can help many people better remember or differentiate between species.
- Many of the sounds libraries and ID apps allow you to view sonograms of the recordings, including xeno-canto, BirdNet, SongSleuth, and others.
- Earbirding - Colorado author and researcher Nathan Pieplow has created several resources to help improve your auditory IDs. These include: