Bird Language #2

Hi again everyone!

We're into week three of social distancing and sheltering in place. If you're reading this, please take a moment to share some of your creative ideas in the comment box at the bottom. Everyone would love to hear what you've come up with to keep your connection with nature in this unusual time.

We're going to get back into bird language today. I'm going to be calling from a wonderful website by Brian Martins, called Nature Mentoring. There is an extensive article about learning to tune into the birds. I'll be walking us through that following his steps. If you haven't seen the video yet, head over to our instagram.


Here's our first challenge pulled directly from his website:

Step 1: Start Watching & Observing Birds Carefully

The fastest way to learn bird language is by watching the most common ground-feeding birds of your bio-region, like this American Robin.

The first thing required to develop knowledge of bird language is to start watching birds as often as you can.

It’s important to realize that getting outside once a year on vacation is probably not going to provide enough experience to successfully learn the complete skill.

In every case, the people who are most successful are those who find ways to integrate their practice in a simple daily or weekly routine.

This is something I would strongly encourage you do right in your own backyard or any nearby local landscape that’s easy for you to access on a consistent basis.

The fastest progress with bird language comes from focusing on the most common ground-feeding birds you encounter every single day near your home.

In North America, this will likely be something like a robin, or a sparrow, perhaps a starling or even a cardinal. In other parts of the world, you can look for your own local sparrow or thrush species to start with.

Remember, you don’t need to be an expert of identification… but you do need to study the most common birds in much greater depth than what is typically done by hobby bird watchers.

This process is vastly simplified by starting with just one individual bird and asking lots of great questions to help you know that bird from every possible angle.

So go find the most common bird in your bioregion and work on questions like:

  • Where does it live?

  • Where does it go?

  • What calls & songs does it make?

  • What does it eat?

  • Where does it sleep?

  • Where does it sing from?

  • What perch does it use?

  • Which month is the peak singing time?

  • How does it’s diet change in different seasons?

  • Where does it fight with other birds for territory?

  • Where does it build the nest?

  • Does it migrate? And when?

  • How does it’s behavior change in each of the 4 seasons?

There are countless dozens of questions to explore here, each pointing your attention to a different aspect of that bird’s life.

The main point to get across here is you need to watch that bird more carefully than you perhaps ever realized was possible…

It means that if you’re watching a robin feed on the grass, and suddenly it flies away into the bushes – don’t just give up watching because it flew out of sight.

You need to have some persistence and try to track it more closely because birds do tend to be quite mobile.

See if you can follow it! Or wait a little while and see how long it takes for that bird to come back!

An important principle for learning birds deeply is – The longer you can follow a complete sequence of behavior, the faster you learn. It’s that simple.

Eventually you’ll start to notice that every bird has a particular rhythm of movement & activity that it follows through it’s natural course of life.

Getting tuned with the unique rhythms of bird activity is the very first step to mastering this skill of bird language.

I'm going to be watching the American Robin in my backyard. What species are you going to watch? Comment below, and share your findings.

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