If not already, we will have passerines returning from their winter locations very soon. Do you feel ready to identify them by sound? Are you still struggling with the calls and sounds of the birds?
Don’t be frustrated. This skill takes time. We are sure that you have improved since last Spring.
But, if you still need to be more confident with bird sound identification, the best way is to go through some studying and listen to calls and sounds before they arrive. So, once they come, you have their sounds fresh in your head.
Remember, you will build up your mental library of sounds if you consistently learn.
Recording bird sounds using a voice recorder.
Let us remind you of some of the best and most practical places to study bird sounds, xeno-canto (https://xeno-canto.org/) and eBird (https://ebird.org/home).
The first one is known worldwide and is one of the best places to search for the sounds of wild birds. It is a collaborative project where the records are uploaded by other birders and scientists. There you can listen to the sounds whenever you want and even download them for a device (smartphone or voice recorder).
On the other hand, on eBird, CornellLab has recently added sound identification in the exploring species section. So, whenever you search for a species there, you will find a bottom above the images where you can listen to that bird's sounds.
Recording bird sounds using a smartphone app.
Finally, once in the field, keep spending time analysing the sounds. Describe them to yourself, write them down in a way you will remember them, and use mnemonics. What better use can you give to your birdwatching journal or notebook? Describe what you hear, the tone and vibe, and the number of syllables, and dare your creativity to make some mnemonics.
Take advantage of technology and record the sounds using a smartphone or a voice recorder. Or even an application that helps you identify the sounds.
Also, challenging a buddy to go to the field with you and practice together will considerably help you develop this hearing skill.