It's pretty safe to say we're a bit bird crazy in this household. Nothing warms my heart more than hearing my daughter cry out from the backyard, "Mom! Quick! Put the guineas in their pen. I hear a Red-Shouldered Hawk!!!"
There is always a pair of binoculars on the cupboard in the mudroom–whether they are Dan's nice ones or Mary's purple plastic ones. And they often get swooped up and carried outside in a flurry of excitement over something calling in the trees. Almost nightly, my setting of the dinner table requires that I first push aside field guides that have been pilfered during breakfast and lunch.
Once your ears begin to recognize bird sounds, it really is amazing how much more you hear and notice when you are out doors. The birds that wake you in the morning are no longer a cacophony of calls, but become Song Sparrows, House Finches and Nuthatches. It's like walking through life with cotton balls in your ears, and someone finally taking them out and revealing a whole world you only previously heard in muffled, muted tones.
And honestly, there's nothing better than seeing this awareness and consciousness of natural surroundings being passed on to my children. I love that their ears are alert, and their eyes are soft, looking for movement and color in the treetops.
Dan and I have gone through a lot of tapes and CDs of birdsong and calls, doing our best to learn as many birds as we can that are native to our area. And it isn't easy. You learn birds only by sound, but can't remember what they look like. Or you know their picture in a field guide, but can't remember what their call sounds like when you're in the field.
So when I heard about BirdJam on a birding podcast, I knew I had to try it. BirdJam is a program of "song files" that can be loaded onto your computer or better yet, your iPod, to learn your bird songs. Each song file brings up a photo of the bird, their name and their genus species. (if you're feeling really ambitious). It is the perfect combination, being able to listen to a song and call, while having the visual photograph in front of you as well.
And guess who's been stealing my ipod to listen to the "bird song CD"? My girls sit with the computer or my ipod and work their way through the songs, calling out the birds they recognize either by song or photo and they are able to put all their knowledge together.
Bird Jam comes in an adult version, too but we have the version for young birders. It is a companion to Bill Thompson's (editor of Bird Watcher's Digest) amazing Young Birder's Guide. (which he wrote with the help of his elementary-aged daughter Pheobe, and he says it is one of his proudest accomplishments of all his bird content writing. ) We have a lot of kid-friendly field guides, but this one is definitely the best. All the information for each bird is on one page and the photographs and facts about each bird are really interesting. I've learned something new about each bird I've looked up in the guide.
I get the chance to share a lot of good finds with you here on my blog, but I have to say, this goes down as one of my favorites. I hope I just made your holiday shopping a little bit easier because I know you bird loving friends will really enjoy this find. And sharing a love and appreciation for the natural world with children, is something I feel passionately about.
happy bird watching, listening and learning….
19 comments on “BirdJam”
We love birds over here too! We make suet, identify the different birds and all that fun stuff. Now, bird jam sounds pretty cool.
It’s amazing how many homeschoolers love birds. 🙂
That is just so cool!!
What a great way to learn about my birds! My kiddos will love this.
I loved bird watching as a kid. I remember many hikes with the bird books as a child. I think its great that I know the names of most of the birds in our area. There are only a few that I know the sounds of. I might have to check this out. Thanks!!
I am going to look for that book.Don’t have an ipod, but we do like looking them up online. 😉
That is very cool. Thank you very much. I am going to make a note of this for future bird studies!
thanks for sharing this, molly. jane is getting her own ipod for her birthday. i think i just found what to put on it.
Thanks for sharing this, Molly. I’ve been thinking the past several months that I wold like to find some birdcalls on line but hadn’t gotten around to looking yet. Oh, and have you ever been to an artist’s blog called Gennine’s Art Blog? She does lots of cute paintings of birds that you might enjoy seeing.
Checked it out today and we’re new fans!
We also keep the Sibley’s bird guide at our kitchen table (near the birdfeeders) and it’s a gorgeous book. Malcom Gladwell refers to Sibley in his book “Blink”. He’s genius!
i tell you what, every day i check my email and then quickly pop through the blogs and i can’t wait to read yours and today was lovely, i am on the other side of the world probably, and i imagine the farm and the garden, house, pond lake thing, the head board, and all the lush green that the girls get to play in and it all just fills me with ease. your blog is a calming peppermint tea at the end of a long day.tomorrow i will try and listen to birds above the sound of the traffic.i do have a garden bird book but i think i bought it for the vintage cover rather than it’s contents, i shall take a peep.regards catherine
I still remember your girls telling me what a chickadee says — chicka -dee-dee-dee–dee-dee
it was so darling I haven’t forgot it. Max and I still sing it every once in awhile.
This is great. Both of mine love spotting the birds in the garden or on walks and we often have the binoculars left lying around the house.
We’re bird crazy, too. Just the other day we had the fun of watching a red-tailed hawk dive for something in my neighbor’s yard and miss. We enjoyed listening to the blue jays’ furious reaction to the episode.I thought I had every birder’s guide…I’ll look into the Young Birders Guide. Thanks!
Hmm…I wish I could be more into birds. I don’t think there is space in my head for those sounds. Maybe in time.Also, you have been tagged. You, a seasoned, blogger probably get this sort of thing often and I will in no way be offended if you don’t participate. If you’d like, though, write seven things about yourself and then tag up to seven people.Hoping you’re having a beautiful fall day!
This is a FANTASTIC idea for learning about birds. Also, love the previous post and photo of the cozy bed. I could crawl right in. It’s already wet and dreary here in the PNW. Ps. My husband read Water for Elephants, loved it!
When Kathy (Restoration Place) were at the park last year with the kids, we ran into some birders looking for an Ibis that was spotted in our county. He has a blog–Nervous Bird something or other. He’s a professional musician, as well, and has lovely music available for free online. He plays the RamsHead in Annapolis. Anyway, he might not be a bird music cd, but he’s a birder and has great tunes. Lol.
My second son is an avid “twitcher” and we have bought all manner of bird books for him over the years. One of the best for us was the “Bird Song” book which has a picture and description of the bird with a number. On the side of the book is a panel where you type in that number and you can hear the bird’s call. I have to agree with you about how knowing more makes you appreciate more as I have learnt so much through him and now I can tell if it’s a song sparrow calling too. I think being able to appreciate, notice and distinguish the world around us is a skill that we too often don’t pass on to our kids. I once saw a documentary about Australian aboriginal kids and how much natural knowledge they had. They played a game of memory with city kids…but with rocks and the Aboriginal kids could remember every single rock, where as the city kids found it really hard to even remember how many rocks there were. Makes you wonder how much we can teach our kids…
we’re big bird fans here too! we know all the local backyard birds and are working on identifying by calls. the way we work on calls is by sitting, watching and listening to our backyard folk. My son came in the other day saying “I heard a new bird!” It was the birds song that alerted him to our new visitor.