| 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. (metro-region.org, 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
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. (outdooreyes.com)
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.
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.