“Every bird, every tree, every flower reminds me what a blessing and privilege it is just to be alive.” – Marty Rubin
Every day, we’re surrounded by the songs of thousands of birds, especially in spring. So how many birds are there in the world? According to a National Geographic study by a research team in New South Wales, there could be anywhere between 50 and 428 billion birds on Earth!
That’s an impressive number, isn’t it?
You could learn to communicate with them if you wanted. Let us explain.
Identifying Different Birdsong
The first thing you have to do before you can start speaking to the birds is learn which bird is making which sound. That said, even if you can perfectly recognise a particular birdsong, that doesn’t mean you can reproduce it.
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Identifying birdsong isn’t a skill you can learn overnight, either. You need to spend a lot of time studying the birds in your garden and your local surroundings.
To get started, find a natural space so you can familiarise yourself with the sounds and sights of the birds around you. To recognise birdsong, you’ll need to know which birds are out there.
To do this, look for guides on common birds where you live. You can find chickadees, robins, nuthatches, swallows, wrens, sparrows, goldfinches, etc.
Once you’re familiar with the birds in your local area, you can listen out for the sounds they make. It’s a good idea to focus on just one species at first. After all, a single species can have different calls. There are different calls for different situations. This means it may take a while before you can instantly recognise it by its call or song.
To help you, there are tools and resources like videos on YouTube and ornithology and birdwatching guides. However, recordings mightn’t match what you hear as birds’ calls can also differ by geographical location. Similarly, a recording will never be the same as hearing it live.
Some apps can automatically recognise birds by their calls. They work a bit like Shazam but for birdsong and will record the sound around you and let you know some of the species you can hear. This can help you on your way to becoming a bird specialist.
Focus on One Species
To learn how to imitate birds, you should just focus on one particular species at first. You can learn to imitate everyday birds, but this will take a lot of time. Don’t expect to be chatting with the birds in a matter of days as it can take months to learn how to do this.
You could start by looking at just robins, for example. Make a note of how they sing including the rhythm, repetitions, and tones they use. Don’t hesitate to record their song so you can listen back to it even when you’re not in the garden or the forest.
Most birdsong can be imitated through whistling. This means you need to learn how to whistle well. Much like with singing, you also need to master your breathing. Once you start to get the hang of this, you’ll need to keep practising.
How to Imitate Bird Song with the Help of Professionals
The easiest way to learn how to imitate birdsong is by getting help from someone who already knows how to do it. Avid ornithologists and birdwatchers may have learnt how to practise certain songs. Whether you opt for intensive sessions or a lesson or two each week, you’ll be able to learn the necessary skills.
They’ll also be able to offer you advice on how to do it better so don’t forget to check in with birdwatching associations and clubs for experts.
Much like recognising birdsong, there are also resources for learning how to imitate bird calls. There are plenty of online video tutorials to help you as well as websites sites with tips and advice.
There are also many books and guides on birds and their calls.
Duck and Other Bird Calls
While some can learn to imitate bird calls with their mouths, others use tools like duck calls or bird calls. By this, we mean the whistle-like device that’s made to sound like a bird when you blow into it.
These tools have been used by humans for millennia and our ancestors would make small whistles out of bones and shells, using them to attract birds to them while out hunting.
Nowadays, they can also be just used to interact with birds, rather than hunt them. Birdwatchers and ornithologists can use them to approach birds to observe them more closely.
You can also get very ornate versions of these tools. Birdwatching stores tend to sell them. Of course, they’re available for more than just ducks. They’re available for many different types of birds. Popular ones include those for chickadees, sparrows, robins, etc.
Calls are usually made from wood. Some a shaped like a whistle but they can come in a lot of different shapes. They can be a little harder to use than a whistle as there’s some technique involved in using some of them. Some can be used to make different animal sounds, too. These can be useful to have on walks in the woods or the forest.
By using a call correctly, the birds will respond and, in some cases, approach you. Of course, if you have a call, don’t use it to bother the birds. Males use calls to mark and defend their territory and using a call could aggravate them. Avoid using a call when birds are making their nests.
People Who Can Speak “Bird”
Throughout history, there have been people who’ve learnt how to excellently imitate different bird calls. Percy Edwards, for example, was an animal impersonator, ornithologist, and entertainer.
His passion for nature led him to imitate the animals he would hear. He’s not the only person with this skill, but he’s arguably one of the most famous bird impersonators.
Whether you do it yourself or use a call, there are ways to imitate birdsong if you’re willing to work hard at it.
If you'd like to learn more about birds, their calls, imitating them, or even singing, consider getting in touch with a private tutor through the Superprof website. There are tutors offering lessons in a huge variety of subjects and skills across the country and worldwide, either one on one, online, or in groups. Each type of tutoring comes with advantages and disadvantages so think about why you want to learn and how you prefer to learn.
For example, face-to-face tutorials are good if you want to learn quickly and effectively as you'll be the only student in the class and all the tutor's time is spent focusing on you. They can also spend time outside of your lessons adapting the lessons and resources to you and what you want to learn. Of course, this tends to make one-on-one tutoring more expensive than the other types available, but it's often the most cost-effective way to learn, too!
Group tutoring is an excellent option for those on a budget or those looking to make new friends with shared interests. As the cost of the tutor's time and experience is shared between all the students in the class, this type of tutoring is usually cheaper per student per hour.
If you can't find any suitable or available tutors in your local area, you can always broaden your search to include tutors all over the country and around the world. Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can be taught via webcam from tutors almost anywhere in the world and since they don't have to travel to their students and have fewer overheads, they tend to charge less per hour than their face-to-face counterparts.
Remember that a lot of the tutors on the Superprof website will offer the first hour or session for free. You can use these sessions to try out a few different tutors before deciding on the one that's right for you, your budget, and what you'd like to learn. Of course, it's always a good idea to find tutors that you're genuinely interested in before getting in touch rather than trying a random bunch of free lessons.
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