Ornithologist Donald Kroodsma is determined to teach all of us to listen knowledgeably and enjoyably to birdsong. He has found a better way.
We hear birdsong when we’re outside, birding or not, in all seasons. You most likely can identify by species many (some) of the singers. Or maybe like me you find spring songs easy to learn and remember. No problem, I do it every spring.
Kroodsma is professor emeritus of ornithology at the University of Massachusetts. He has published five books on birdsong, his latest “Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist, Your Guide to Listening.”
The book is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in book stores now, just in time for the song season of the year, spring.
Of all his books I like this one best. There is more explanatory text, songs explained as facets of behavior. Kroodsma writes well, giving us just enough information to set the stage for the performances.
Plus — a big plus — QR codes (new to me, but magic) are provided for each species in the book.
QR codes are similar to the bar codes we see on everything these days. Bar codes provide a link to product information. Your Apple phone should come with a QR code reader. You can download an app for Android phones.
Kroodsma thus gives us song, illustration, and brief data from the text, all on the screen of your cell phone. It is very user friendly. You point your phone’s camera at the code block. You do need the book in hand.
It took me a couple of minutes to achieve proper distance and focus for activation, this because no grandchildren were available, but it’s easy. Do it correctly, and the appropriate page arrives like magic. (Be sure the phone volume is turned up. And, if I sound dreadfully behind the world on technical things it is because I am.)
You also can record the songs that appear on your phone, saving them for later use.
All North American bird species are not in the book, but many of our common birds are included. You get, however, link access to over 700 North American birdsongs. Everything you might hear on a good spring day is available.
You can find over 75 hours of listening on the book’s website, BirdsongForTheCurious.com
This is a handsome book, well made for active field use. It has 198 pages with notes and index. It is filled with new things to learn and enjoy. Price is $27.
Below, part of the page for red-winged blackbird, QR code beneath the photo.