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David Sibley, creator and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds, offers this advice for learning to identify birds such as this Warbling Vireo: “Spend time at home, paging through the field guide . . . by flipping through the pages of the book and looking at pictures and reading the names, you’ll start to get a sense of what those birds are . . . It doesn’t have to be about seeing a lot of different species, but more about getting to know the birds that are common in your neighborhood or in your yard.”
Advice for Beginning Birders From David Sibley
Interview by Chris Peterson & Ellen Blackstone
Written by Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Light ambient sound from wetland]
How do you get started learning to identify birds? There are so many! And they hardly sit still long enough for you to have a good look! Well, David Sibley, who literally “wrote the book*” on identifying birds, has some advice:
Spend time at home – paging through the field guide…At first, names like “scoter” and “vireo” and “egret” are going to seem strange and foreign but …by flipping through the pages of the book and looking at pictures and read-ing the names, you’ll start to get a sense of what those birds are. What makes a vireo a vireo
[Song of Vireo]
From someone who’s observed birds with great interest for years, here’s a welcome note:
It doesn’t have to be about seeing a lot of different species, but more about get-ting to know the birds that are common in your neighborhood or in your yard…It can be really rewarding at that level.
[Song of Song Sparrow]
Another thing that I think is incredibly useful for a beginning birder is to get in touch with a local nature center or Audubon chapter…Someone can take away all the uncertainty and say, ‘Yes, that’s a Song Sparrow!
[Repeat song of Song Sparrow]
Your first 25 or 50 species are the hardest ones to learn. So if you can find somebody who can help you with those, you’ll have a really good solid start!
We’re ready to help, too – at birdnote.org.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Warbling Vireo WVA 110999 recorded by W.L. Hershberger. Song Sparrow 16707 recorded by A. A. Allen
Ambience recorded by Chris Peterson
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org August 2016/2019 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# sibleyd-03-2014-08-13 sibleyd-03