Bird Language
 What:  The cheerful chorus of morning bird song is one of the welcome signs of spring. Perhaps you have paused to enjoy it, and if you are a bird watcher, you know that songs are a great way to identify birds. But what else can you learn from the birds? Is there any meaning behind these sounds?

Nested within the chorus of spring is a kind of knowledge almost lost to our busy modern world. Birds hold the key to a deeper connection with nature. They can teach us how to see more wildlife and enjoy close encounters with deer, fox, and other elusive animals. Certain songbirds (like wrens, robins and sparrows) act as feathered guardians of the forest, and by learning to interpret their songs and calls, we can gain passage to new and rich experiences in nature.

The basics of bird "language" are relatively simple, even if you are new to bird watching. Like humans, songbirds vocalize to communicate. They don't make sounds randomly, but instead "talk" about what is going on in the forest. Two of the easiest types of bird sounds to recognize are songs and alarm calls. (, by Elizabeth Neeley)

This is how the infamous Geronimo always eluded capture. Despite traditional in-fighting amongst the varied Apache tribes, plus four hundred years of constant conflict with Mexico to the south, and then years of pursuit by the U.S. Calvary, he was never captured because of his knowledge of bird language.  Birds outside cities talk about events that are miles away. Geronimo was able to know exactly where the troops were coming from at all times. The five categories of bird languagge include the following: songs, companion calls, intra-species conflict calls, begging calls, alarm calls. (PanGaia Magazine: Wolf Journeys, by Chris Chisholm)

Wildlife does not appear just because we've studied the Peterson's or Audubon Guides. Wildlife is always there... but sometimes we do not know how to see them. Are some photographers lucky when they take great photographs of wildlife or do they know something that you might need to learn? If the birds know bird language and they understand what it means... won't you be able to see more of nature if you understood the universal bird language? By just learning the universal bird language, even from your backyard, you will recognize base line of the birds and only then you will be able to recognize a change Flicker Digital Photography  Outdoor Eyes in the pattern and know what it means. You will see more and you will be able to have more photography opportunities.
Baseline, once understood, is common sense combined with observational skills. Baseline is not doves flying up suddenly from the ground when you approach. Baseline is NOT when the birds stop singing their songs or stop feeding their young or stop male to male aggression or stop their companion calls. Baseline is when the birds do what is natural during the day and when they stop doing their natural behavior, they are out of baseline. And when they are not in baseline and they are giving the voice of alarm, all the wildlife within a certain radius knows. They listen and then they move on to safer areas depending on the bird language.
If you get really good at bird language, you will be capable of seeing those great wildlife moments while they are happening. If you choose to see wildlife, you will see them and you will be able to take those award-winning photographs since you will be there at the right moment. Most photographers take pictures from hides waiting for a particular moment. Why do they stay in hides? Is it is because that they do not really understand the language of the birds and they can not get close enough for the photograph. Do they need hides to protect them from the sound of the bird alarms? For you, that little saying "A birdie told me", will become true when you see the wildlife and you take your photographs. (

These teachings have been passed down from Apache tracker Stalking Wolf through Tom Brown Jr. and Jon Young's Wilderness Awareness School.

Some important resources to acquire if you would like to learn bird language more rapidly include:

Birds of North America: A guide to field Identification, Golden Guide Books, New York, 1991, by Chandler S. Robbins, Bertel Bruun, and Herbert S. Zim

Stokes Field Gude to Bird Songs compact disks, Time Warner, New York, 1999, by Kevin Colver, Donald Stokes, and Lillian Q. Stokes.

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking, Berkley, CA, 1988, by Tom Brown, Jr. with Brandt Morgan.

 Where: In your backyard. During your walk in the forests around Spokane like in Riverside State Park, and then at Mount Spokane or nearby lakes. Turnbull Wildlife refuge.

 Cautions:  None

 List:  Binoculars, possibly a sound recorder if you want to learn bird language.