The technology, three CDs packed in a jewel case, may seem outdated but the contents of Birding by Ear are still modern. That's because the bird songs and calls and the lessons contained within never grow old or outdated.
Every spring, as migration gets underway, I bring out my Birding by Ear sets for a number of reasons. First, I want to take a refresher course on the bird songs and calls I already know (or think I already know). I often end up picking out something a little different even on the commonest of bird song, just helping to further reinforce those connections.
Secondly, I try to add to the repertoire of songs and calls I know. I'll really focus in on those birds that I'll be most likely to see and hear in my "regular life" and try to add a sound or two or three to those I am able to recognize and attach a species to.
Birding by Ear is the top CD we recommend in our Wild Birds Unlimited shop to anyone coming in wanting to LEARN birdsong. These are INSTRUCTIONAL CDs, with creators Richard K. Walton and Robert W. Lawson sharing cues and clues to help in your learning before playing the songs and calls. Birds are grouped to aid in the learning process. For example,they group the "sing-songers" - robin, tanagers, grosbeak and vireos - to help distinguish between their similar songs.
The third CD concludes with groupings of birds by their most likely habitat, which I use to switch my mindset to rule in / rule out birds based on where I might be observing them.
While I try to listen to the whole first set of Birding by Ear every spring, I also try to listen to the second 3-CD set as well, More Birding by Ear. Using the same learning style, it adds 96 more species of birds, and not just rarer, unlikely birds. Fairly common birds such as Red-breasted Nuthatch, Great Blue Heron, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker are covered, adding more learning opportunities to my bird song knowledge.
I'll play the CDs at home or while I'm riding in my car, since I still have CD players in both locations. But, thinking ahead to the day when CD players are not around any more and when the shiny discs are used only to string up to prevent bird strikes, I have downloaded these to my iPod. I see myself using these for years to come, each spring listening to them to refresh my ear and add new songs to my repetoire, one by one by one. For me, slow and steady is the way to go.