Old Sam Peabody, teakettles, Beefeater, party, and beer. What do these have to do with your wildlife garden? Your Ecosystem Garden will be a magnet for birds, and all of these phrases can be associated with a specific song.
Learning to identify your avian friends by their song is a wonderful way to experience the nature that visits your property.
After a very long winter, the most noticeable sign of Spring happening right now is that the birds are beginning to advertise for mates by singing. A LOT.
The Voices of the Birds in my Ecosystem Garden
Northern Cardinal–“Party, party, party. Beer, beer, beer”
Song Sparrow–“Maids, maids, maids, put on your teakettle, teakettle, teakettle”
Tufted Titmouse–“Peter, peter, peter”
White-throated Sparrow–“Old Sam Peabody, peabody, peabody”
Carolina Wren–“Beefeater, beefeater, beefeater, GIN”
Barred Owl–“Who Cooks for You?”
As I walk through my neighborhood, I hear these songs and more. I love to challenge myself to identify all of the birds I hear without seeing them. That means I need to learn the song of each bird so I can tell who’s singing.
Identifying Birds by Song
Many naturalists and bird watchers have extended their knowledge and enjoyment by learning birdsong. In fact, sometimes you never see a bird because it is hidden in the leaves, but if you know the bird’s song, you will be able to identify these visitors without ever seeing them.
The best resource I have found for identifying the songs of birds in my Ecosystem Garden is Birding by Ear and More Birding by Ear. These 6 CDs have a permanent home in the CD changer in my truck. I can learn the Warblers on the way to the grocery. By the time I get to the Post Office, I am into the Woodpeckers. These are the choice for wildlife gardeners who live in the Eastern US.
If you live in the Western US, you would want to choose Western Birding by Ear.
These guides break each bird’s song down into its simplest parts, and give you a word or phrase to associate with each song. Hence “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.” Once you learn the phrase for the birds in your area, you will find that it will be much easier to know exactly which of them have chosen your wildlife garden to make their homes.
While there are other birdsong guides on the market, the Birding by Ear series does the best job of breaking down the parts of a song and giving you a way to remember it.
Plus, they group birds by habitat, which is an enormous help in identifying birdsong.
You will be able to eliminate some similar songs because of the habitat you are in. Some birds like wooded areas, some hang out in open fields, some are partial to wetland or swamp areas.
I listen to these CDs every time I have to drive somewhere. You’d be surprised how easily you will begin to learn to identify the birds in your wildlife habitat garden and the natural areas you visit.