Learn 10 Memorable Bird Songs

For anyone who is not an avid birder, easily distinguishing between the chatter of different birdsongs in your garden or on a nature trail can be difficult – and identifying individual bird songs, impossible. It’s hard to know where to begin, but familiarising yourself with 10 easily recognisable songs here in the UK is a good place to start.

In the next five minutes, you’ll become familiar with 10 different bird songs, several of which you will definitely have heard before – you just might not have been able to match the bird to the song. Birders often learn to recognise and remember different songs by creating birdsong mnemonics. They listen to what words the birdsong sounds like, as well as any distinctive trills or vibrating brrrr noises. For example, the Great Tit produces a high pitched two-note pattern that is universally accepted as sounding like the word ‘teacher’. This is an easy one to remember – just think of an eager child clamouring for attention in the classroom, “Teacher teacher teacher teacher!”.

1. Great Tit Parus major

(Bouncy and repetitive. “Teacher teacher teacher!”)

2. Chiff Chaff Phylloscopus collybita

(To the untrained ear this can be confused with the Great Tit, but listen to the recordings together and you will see the chiffchaff is very different. Jerky and repetitive, the bird sings it’s own name. Generally the song is more hurried, and the notes not quite as piercing. Imagine it being late and hurrying along.
“Chiff-chaff chiff-chaff chiff-chaff!”)

3. Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto and 4. Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus

(Think along the lines of a football chant. “Uniiited! Uniiited!”)
(Two extra syllables on the end of the chant.
“Uniiited, you are! Uniiited, you are!”)

5. Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella


6. Blackbird Turdus merula

(Sounds a bit forlorn. Slow paced, laid-back, flutey tune. A beautiful song – many people think it sounds quite sad.)

7. House Sparrow Passer domesticus

(These birds tend to hang out in groups, generally aren’t too shy around people, and are very noisy. They sound like a flock of chicks.
“Cheep cheep cheep!”.)

8. Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

(A sudden loud burst of song with a series of trills. Listen out carefully for the brief vibrating noise in between two twiddles.
“Twiddly notes – brrrrr – twiddly notes”)

9. Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus

(Alarm call)
(This bird sings a range of songs difficult to I.D. The easiest is a high pitched buzzing trill. Often written as “Tsee-tsee chu-chu-chu”)

10. Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos

Distinctive and unforgettable; often regarded as the most wonderous of bird songs and the inspiration for Keats’ famous poem. If you hear a nightingale, you are very lucky indeed; once common, these beautiful birds are now Red listed in the UK.

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