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6. Explain the function of a bird's song. Be able to identify five of the 20 species in your field notebook by song or call alone. For each of these five species enter a description of the song or call, and note the behavior of the bird making the sound. Note why you think the bird was making the call or song that you heard.


Click to hear song of American Robin

That was the song of the American Robin,  telling all of the other Robins that "this is my turf!"
Songs are often used to claim territory or to attract mates.  Shorter calls are used to warn of danger, keep flocks together, announce locations of foods and for many purposes we don't fully understand.

The reason we call our hobby "birding" and not "birdwatching" is that birders often identify many birds by their calls and songs. In fact, calls often lead birders to a bird. That's because we can hear in all directions, but can only see straight ahead.

Learning calls is not hard. You probably already know the call of Canada Goose (Honk),a Mallard (Quack) or a Chickadee (Chick a dee dee dee).

A good set of tapes or CD's to learn from are the "Birding by Ear" ones by Walton & Lawson in the Peterson series. But you can also learn calls by carefully listening to a bird while you're watching it through your binoculars.

Here are some links to help you hear some bird calls on the web:

All About Birds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) - An online Field Guide

Requirement 7

Scouting for Birds