The Backyard Birdsong Guide Western North America A Guide to Listening

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2016-04-12
  • Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group

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Back by popular demand with more than 300,000 copies sold, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is proud to re-release the widely acclaimed and bestselling bird audio field guide series, Backyard Birdsongs, from award-winning Ornithologist and Author, Donald Kroodsma.

Backyard Birdsongs is an interactive handbook of birds and their songs for beginning bird-watchers. With a touch-button electronic module housing common vocalizations of 75 species from across Eastern and Central North America, this volume offers a truly sensory way to identify and get to know local birds. Crisply detailed and scientifically accurate illustrations accompany each entry, and up-to-date range maps provide clear geographical reference points. Complete with an introduction to birdsongs that will inspire readers to look out their kitchen windows and venture out in the field, this unique book provides an exciting entryway into the subtle art of birding.

This second edition includes a much-requested new Sound Track Index (to help make watching and listening to birds easier), and a free download of the Cornell Lab's own MERLIN™ Bird ID App (on iTunes and Android stores).

And as with all Cornell Lab Publishing Group books, 35% of the net proceeds from the sale of Backyard Birdsongs supports projects at the Cornell Lab, such as children’s educational and community programs.

Author Biography

Donald Kroodsma is professor emeritus of ornithology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a world-renowned authority on birdsongs. He is the author of The Singing Life of Birds (winner of the 2006 John Burroughs Medal Award and the American Birding Association's Robert Ridgway Distinguished Service Award for excellence in publications pertaining to field ornithology), The Backyard Birdsong Guides, and Birdsong by the Seasons.

Donald's work on bird song is legendary. In 2003 the American Ornithologists' Union called him the "reigning authority on the biology of avian vocal behavior." Kroodsma received his Ph.D. at Oregon State University and has traveled all over North and South America researching bird song. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union and the Animal Behavior Society and has published hundreds of academic and popular articles. He lives in Hatfield, MA.

Table of Contents



Why Birds Sing 10
Where Each Bird Gets His Song 12
Songs and Calls 14
The Practice of Deep Listening 15
Where to Begin 21
How to Use the Audio Player 22

Ducks and Geese (Anatidae) 26 Canada Goose
Ducks and Geese (Anatidae) 28 Mallard
New World Quail (Odontophoridae) 30 California Quail
Grebes (Podicipedidae) Western and Clark's Grebes
Hawks and Eagles (Accipitridae) 34 Red-tailed Hawk
Rails, Gallinules, and Coots (Rallidae) 36 American Coot
Cranes (Gruidae) 38 Sandhill Crane
Plovers (Charadriidae) 40 Killdeer
Sandpipers and Phalaropes (Scolopacidae) 42 Wilson’s Snipe
Pigeons and Doves (Columbidae) 44 Mourning Dove
Owls (Strigidae) 46 Great Horned Owl
Goatsuckers (Caprimulgidae) 48 Common Nighthawk
Hummingbirds (Trochilidae) 50 Anna’s Hummingbird
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae) 52 Belted Kingfisher
Woodpeckers (Picidae) 54 Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers
Woodpeckers (Picidae) 56 Northern Flicker

Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae) 60 Western Wood-Pewee 62 Black Phoebe
Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae) 64 Western Kingbird
Vireos (Vireonidae) 66 Hutton’s Vireo
Jays and Crows (Corvidae) 68 Steller’s Jay
Jays and Crows (Corvidae) 70 Western Scrub-Jay
Jays and Crows (Corvidae) 72 American Crow
Jays and Crows (Corvidae) 74 Common Raven
Larks (Alaudidae) 76 Horned Lark
Swallows (Hirundinidae) 78 Violet-green Swallow
Chickadees and Titmice (Paridae) 80 Mountain Chickadee
Chickadees and Titmice (Paridae)82 Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Chickadees and Titmice (Paridae)84 Oak and Juniper Titmice
Nuthatches (Sittidae) 86 White-breasted Nuthatch
Wrens (Troglodytidae) 88 Bewick’s Wren
Wrens (Troglodytidae) 90 House Wren
Wrens (Troglodytidae) 92 Winter Wren
Wrens (Troglodytidae) 94 Marsh Wren
Kinglets (Regulidae) 96 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Thrushes (Turdidae) 98 American Robin
Thrushes (Turdidae) 100 Western Bluebird
Thrushes (Turdidae) 102 Swainson’s Thrush
Thrushes (Turdidae) 104 Hermit Thrush
Babblers (Timaliidae) 106 Wrentit
Mockingbirds and Thrashers (Mimidae) 108 Northern Mockingbird
Mockingbirds and Thrashers (Mimidae) 110 California Thrasher
Starlings (Sturnidae) 112 European Starling
Waxwings (Bombycillidae) 114 Cedar Waxwing
Wood-Warblers (Parulidae) 116 Orange-crowned Warbler
Wood-Warblers (Parulidae) 118 Yellow Warbler
Wood-Warblers (Parulidae) 120 MacGillivray’s Warbler
Wood-Warblers (Parulidae) 122 Common Yellowthroat
Wood-Warblers (Parulidae) 124 Wilson’s Warbler
Wood-Warblers (Parulidae) 126 Yellow-breasted Chat
Tanagers (Thraupidae) 128 Western Tanager
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 130 Spotted Towhee
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 132 California Towhee
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 134 Chipping Sparrow
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 136 Brewer’s Sparrow
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 138 Lark Sparrow
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 140 Lark Bunting
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 142 Savannah Sparrow
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 144 Fox Sparrow
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 146 Song Sparrow
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 148 White-crowned Sparrow
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 150 Golden-crowned Sparrow
Sparrows (Emberizidae) 152 Dark-eyed Junco
Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and Buntings (Cardinalidae) 154 Black-headed Grosbeak
Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and Buntings (Cardinalidae) 156 Lazuli Bunting
Blackbirds (Icteridae) 158 Red-winged Blackbird
Blackbirds (Icteridae) 160 Western Meadowlark
Blackbirds (Icteridae) 162 Yellow-headed Blackbird
Blackbirds (Icteridae) 164 Great-tailed Grackle
Blackbirds (Icteridae) 166 Brown-headed Cowbird
Blackbirds (Icteridae) 168 Bullock’s Oriole
Finches (Fringillidae) 170 House Finch
Finches (Fringillidae) 172 American Goldfinch
Finches (Fringillidae) 174 Lesser Goldfinch

More Fun with Birdsong 178
Additional Listening and Reading Sources 180
References 181
Illustration Credits 182
Recording Credits 182
About the Cornell Lab of Ornithology 183
About the Artists 184
About the Author 185
Index 186
Acknowledgments 192

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