Dendroica: a great tool for learning birdsong

Blackburnian warbler

Every spring I review my birdsong recognition skills in time to run my route for the annual Breeding Bird Survey sometime around the summer solstice. One great tool for refreshing my memory is Dendroica, a program on NatureInstruct website. It was developed in Canada to train volunteers for programs such as BBS, and has since expanded to also include species found throughout the United States, Mexico and the Western Hemisphere.

Even if you just want to identify a few songs from the park, Dendroica will help. As a guest you can browse species, see pictures and listen to their songs and calls. If you register (for free) you can also take quizzes, study customized lists and contribute photos and sound files.

If you live in my part of the continent (eastern Canada or the northeastern United States) her is a list of park and garden species to look up:

  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Tree Swallow
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Gray Catbird
  • European Starling
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • American Redstart
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Common Grackle
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • American Goldfinch

Dendroica was formerly the genus name of a number of our warbler species, such as the lovely Blackburnian warbler I photographed above. They seldom nest in urban areas, though a few can be found in large city parks with regenerating or mature woodland. Dendroica was recently merged into the genus Setophaga.

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