Urban Bird Sounds Project
February 1, 2010 5:19 AM   Subscribe

The Urban Bird Sounds Project and podcast. The students of Codman Academy Charter Public School have developed a free CD to help you learn to "recognize bird sounds in the city."

European Starling: "Some words that I would use to describe how they sound are: confusing, disorganized, electronic, and not-very-beautiful."--Beyonka
posted by OmieWise (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
This is so great!
posted by rtha at 5:43 AM on February 1, 2010

This one is my favorite: "Rock Pigeons are not migratory. They sound like a purring cat. Then again, it could also sound like a car getting fixed. " -- Renee

Awesome post!
posted by bluefly at 5:47 AM on February 1, 2010

This is a wonderful natural science project. Not just because its subject is one of my passions. These kids have learned about more than birds and bird sounds. They have seen how to: organize a project, research a topic, record in the field, publish on the net, do field work and probably much more. I love stories like this because my own public school education lacked this type of practical application. Like many public school graduates in this country, I was taught subjects that were the basis of state testing guidelines and mostly useless in my adult life. What these kids have done even sounds like fun. Thank you for sharing this link.
posted by birdwatcher at 5:48 AM on February 1, 2010

Really great. Although you know what would be more useful, if identification is the object? If I could enter the song in and have it ID the bird for me.

Like many public school graduates in this country, I was taught subjects that were...mostly useless in my adult life.

don't say math don't say math don't say math don't say math
posted by DU at 5:53 AM on February 1, 2010

My favourite is the North American GoldFinch with its flying taunt of Potato chips Potato chips. That bird has programmed my eating habits! Good to know it is the size of a pickle.
posted by srboisvert at 5:55 AM on February 1, 2010

The Mockingbird entry fails to mention that, in urban settings, they are more likely to mock a car alarm than other birds. Lived near one of those buggers for about two years...
posted by wg at 6:06 AM on February 1, 2010

Great post, but unfortunately the ("Made on a Mac"?) html formatting just fails fails fails on my netbook. In particular, the headers overlap, the body text is crammed into a narrow column, and within the body, the images obscure the text. It's all absolute positioning, and obviously not for my 1024x600 screen.

I blame a Teach For America teacher. :)

Seriously, if this thing were readable, I'd use it, not because it's cute that city school kids did it, but because it really impels me to go to the park with my netbook and my broadband card and do some urban birdwatching. Which just makes me all the more annoyed that the formatting is so badly overdone.

Ah, ok. Firefox: Menu|View|Style|No Style
posted by orthogonality at 6:28 AM on February 1, 2010

Want a version of this for Japanese cities!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:41 AM on February 1, 2010

This. Rocks. Thank you!
posted by Stewriffic at 6:46 AM on February 1, 2010

wg, I've recorded that very thing in my own back yard.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:56 AM on February 1, 2010

I just downloaded the sound files, and perhaps the best part is the quizzes! So cute. I'm going to send this to a friend who coordinates an urban community garden program for teenagers. They also have programs for littler kids, too. I bet they'll use it!
posted by Stewriffic at 7:00 AM on February 1, 2010

Track 14 is Mefi's own rtha (Buteo jamaicensis).
posted by pracowity at 7:04 AM on February 1, 2010

Woo hoo! I'm internet famous!
posted by rtha at 7:10 AM on February 1, 2010

A fun bonus: playing the mourning dove track makes my cat go completely out of his mind trying to look for "the bird outside the window."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:51 AM on February 1, 2010

I find that any bird songs at any time will cause my cat to focus her attention in the direction of the sound source. Winged Migration was the Friday 10 o'clock movie on our local PBS station awhile back--between the bird songs and the visuals, my cat was watching TV. Which was a first for her. And, she has been checking it out every now and then since.

Learning bird songs is one of my current projects. That and noting when they start singing, which I consider the unofficial start of spring. Which was mid-January this year, the earliest I can remember. We had a hard freeze late last year but now the daffodils are starting to bud out. If this keeps on, I will be putting seed down before the end of the month.
posted by y2karl at 9:04 AM on February 1, 2010

"Northern Mockingbird" is the urban ornithologist's equivalent to "Have you tried turning it off and back on again?"

Back when I was a wildlife student, my friends and family started to call me to help identifying birds in their neighborhoods. Nine times out of ten, the conversation went like this:

"Ok, there's this fucking bird outside my win-"
"Wait.. what?"
"The bird. It's a Northern Mockingbird"
"I didn't even tell you about it yet!"
"Gray? Black and white tail?"
"Well... yeah"
"Bugs the shit out of you while you sleep?"
"Hell yeah"
"Yep. Northern Mockingbird. Buy earplugs."
posted by stefanie at 10:06 AM on February 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

We had this mockingbird in our neighborhood a couple of years ago who could. not. get a date. He sang and sang and sang, and sang all night, for weeks.

Still, I'd rather have that than the frickin' starlings the nest in our eaves. Saw a kestrel the other day, perched on a telephone pole. It was eating something, and was close enough for us to determine that it was eating a house sparrow. And a few mornings over the last couple of weeks there's been an adult sharp-shinned hawk perched on the house in back of us. That shuts the starlings up right quick, thank god.
posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on February 1, 2010

I have, in desperation, gone out at 2 am in my pajamas with a supersoaker, trying to annoy a mockingbird into vacating the tree in front of my apartment. The lonely bastard showed up two seasons in a row before finally giving up, although by then I'd invested in a white noise machine and stopped acting like a crazy lady.

But yes, starlings run a verrry close second in the "infuriating and annoying birds" category.
posted by stefanie at 2:21 PM on February 1, 2010

I had a co-worker a few years ago who had the misfortune to have a pair of red-shouldered hawks nesting in a tree behind her house. The young fledged successfully, and then, like many young adults, hung around the nest begging for handouts. RSHAs are pretty loquacious anyway, but add the young into the batch...
posted by rtha at 2:30 PM on February 1, 2010

Bird calls, remixed.
posted by Evilspork at 4:53 PM on February 1, 2010

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