11 July 2010

Birding By Ear

I love my ears. They aren't especially attractive, or unattractive either, but they play a very important part in my bird and insect observations. When botanizing, the only way for me to know what birds are around is to hear them singing or calling, as I am intently focused on what is on the ground, not what is in the trees.

Yesterday, I ran 6.5 miles with Lindsay and her dad on the country roads near our house. I don't find running particularly enjoyable, but it was a nice morning, and the birds were singing, making the run much more pleasant. During our run, I tallied 30 bird species, mostly by song, but a few by sight. My list is attached below. Notable in this list are two state endangered species in Indiana: Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis) and Marsh Wren (C. palustris). I heard the Sedge Wren singing from a prairie/old field area a few miles southwest of our property. The Marsh Wren was singing from a cattail marsh along the road at Potato Creek State Park.

Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Marsh Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Brown-headed Cowbird
Oriole sp.*
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

The bird photos above were not taken on our run; we took them on our property in the last couple of weeks. From the top, they are: Rock Pigeon (Columba livea), House Wren (Troglodytes aedon), Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum), and American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis).

* Not sure if this was a Baltimore Oriole (Icteris galbula) or an Orchard Oriole (I. spurius). I used to feel confident distinguishing the two by song, but lately I don't feel like I know the difference well enough... time to listen to the bird song CDs again!


Justin Thomas said...

Fun post, Scott. I can attest to the fact that you have fantastic ears. I especially like when you cup your hands around them to gather sound waves like a bat sampling sonar. Over the years, you have inspired me to follow suit by sharpening my audio skills for birds and insects. As you say, it opens a whole new world of discovery. As I get older, I find myself turning the radio down a tad to conserve my wet-willy wells for a few extra years. Bad Religion doesn't sound as good at medium volume, but who wants to be a 40 year old punk anyway.

Scott Namestnik said...

Thanks Justin. I learned the hand-cupping technique in the Frogwatch training I attended many years ago. I'm glad that my interest in learning bird and insect songs has rubbed off on you... it's my way of thanking you for your passion for plants, which certainly rubbed off on me at Peck Ranch in 1998.