I have enjoyed watching birds for many years, both in the wild and in front of my kitchen window. I am able to identify a majority that I see, but I have been flummoxed by their songs. No matter how hard I tried to read what a bird sounds like and compare it to one I was listening to, I failed.
Last week Cornell University released a new version of their free phone app, Merlin. In addition to being able to identify a bird from looking at it, the app has added a priceless feature. When you sit near where you hear a bird and turn on the app, it identifies the bird and/or birds that are singing. If it is uncertain, it waits for a bit. When a check mark appears, the app is certain. It then displays a photo of each bird, lighting when it is singing.
I was amazed to learn that I was regularly hearing from a Carolina wren. I could also hear the difference between the house sparrow, the house finch and the song sparrow. A noise that I thought was coming from a blue jay turns out to be coming from a grackle.The app stores the recordings on your phone if you like, so it is possible to listen again and solidify the connection between the sound and the image.
Have I mentioned that this is FREE? Have fun.