To learn how to listen to bird calls properly, listen to recordings, imitate the sounds and observe birds in the wild. It can also help to go bird watching with a more experienced watcher who can help identify different calls.
Birds use songs and calls to reinforce their territories, attract mates, identify each other, warn other birds about predators and to tell other birds about food. Calls are shorter than songs, and birds tend to commonly use them for identification, warning, and information purposes. Bird calls can be a handy tool for finding and identifying different birds.
Recordings can help bird watchers memorize different bird calls. Websites such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have an online bird guide that contains a variety of different recordings that watchers can use for reference. Bird watchers can also find bird calls through mobile applications such as iKnowBirdSongs. When listening to recordings, watchers should note the rhythm, pitch, tone and repetition patterns of the calls.
Watchers may find it helpful to imitate bird sounds out loud and to pair different calls with human words. This can help them memorize distinctive calls. After listening to a few recordings and committing some calls to memory, bird watchers can practice their skills in the field. Going on a bird watching field trip with a local group can be a good way to learn from more experienced watchers.