Cliches, perhaps, but a perfect description of my ability to recognize a series of notes, either in the bird world or in instrumental music.
Mnemonics, or the practice of using words to remember phrases in bird songs, has been a great help to me.
I can remember the words, while I can't remember or recognize a series of musical notes.
I especially appreciate the birds that say their own names.
What could be easier? Big thanks to the Carolina Chickadee, who says "chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee," the Eastern Phoebe with its phoebe call, the bob-white and the Eastern Wood Pewee, who cries out "pee-a-wee.
" At night, you can hear the Whippoorwill and the Chuck Will's Widow calling out their names.
Near water or in fields, the air is sometimes filled with shrill cries of "killdeer! killdeer!" announcing the presence of a group of killdeer.
Other birds don't answer roll call with their names, but have songs that sound remarkably likephrases in English.
In grasslands, you can recognize the Eastern Meadowlark's "spring-of-the-year.
" Woodland birds who "speak English," include the Tufted Titmouse, with his call of "peter-peter-peter," the meowing Gray Catbird, the Eastern Towhee telling everyone to "Drink your tea!" and the Carolina Wren, with its loudly repeated "teakettle, teakettle, teakettle.
" Flycatchers are very difficult to tell apart by sight.
The best way to distinguish one from another is by the song.
The Great-crested Flycatcher says, "Wheep!", the Acadian says "pizza, pizza," the Alder cries "Fitzbuh," and the Olive-sided begs, "Quick! Three beers.
" Owl calls are easy to learn.
The typical hooting call belongs to the Great Horned Owl.
The Eastern Screech Owl whinnies like a horse, and the Barred Owl continually questions, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?" There are hundreds of other mnemonics that can help you with bird identification.
You can find all you'll need by simply doing a search on the Internet for birds and mnemonics.
With a little practice, you'll be identifying dozens of birds without even seeing them.