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An idea for learning to bird by ear
- To: "Carolinabirds" <email@example.com>
- Subject: An idea for learning to bird by ear
- From: "John Argentati" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 18:25:09 -0500
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For Christmas I got both Thayer's Birding Software and the Stokes Field
Guide to Bird Songs CDs (3).
I wanted to use commute time to learn how to bird by ear, however I found
that the Stokes CDs were not very effective for a number of reasons:
1. At the moment, I don't care about learning the bird songs that do not
occur in my geographic area.
2. I don't care about learning bird songs of birds that I typically identify
in other ways, e.g. I usually ID ducks by sight not by their calls.
3. I can already identity some birds by their song and don't need to waste
time listening to them again.
4. Stokes always announces the name of the bird BEFORE playing it's song. I
wanted something more akin to flash cards - where the birds song would be
played before I am told what it is.
Note that the .wav files that come with Thayer's Software ONLY have the
bird's song. The bird's name is never announced.
What I wanted was a recording of selected birds which would play the bird's
song first, then would announce the name of the bird, then would play the
bird's song once again.
Here's the solution I came up with. It's a little technical, but if you
have a PC and both Thayer's Software and the Stokes CDs, you could do the
I converted the stokes CDs to wma files using Microsoft Media Player 7. (I
own stokes and these files are for my sole use.)
I created a play list (birdsongs.m3u file) which is just a text file of the
file names in the order that I wish to hear them.
Note that in the play list, I first play the Thayer's file (which does NOT
announce the name of the bird), then I play the corresponding Stokes file.
This is a little bit of an over simplification, but this is kind of what it
When I play this play list, here's what happens (remember Thayer's
recordings do NOT have the bird's name announced.)
1. Thayer's recording of a field sparrow is played. I try and guess what it
2. Stokes recording announces "FIELD SPARROW" and then plays a field sparrow
3. Thayer's recording of a swamp sparrow is played. I try and guess what it
4. Stokes recording announces "SWAMP SPARROW" and then plays a swamp sparrow
5. Thayer's recording of a Grasshopper sparrow is played. I try and guess
what it is.
6. Stokes recording announces "GRASSHOPPER SPARROW" and then plays a
Grasshopper sparrow song.
I recorded this onto a tape and play it in my car.
Actually, I have a number of tapes each has the songs in a different order.
It was a fair amount of work to do all this, but now I have some really good
Hope this is helpful.
Raleigh, North Carolina