Dealing with the songs of over 200 birds of eastern North America, Bird Song: Defined, Decoded, Described provides an abundance of information on these songs. It also provides a practical system which allows a birder easy access in order to identify a mystery song, or simply to locate a song for further detailed explanation. The system uses song structure as the focus: Very short songs, Repeated series of notes; also Short songs with variable notes, as well as Long songs with variable notes. Basically the system presents songs by starting from the simple, and moving to the more complex. Many birders find this method of organization useful in helping them learn bird song.
In the book, songs are "defined" according to how they fit into this system, "decoded" by their elements and structure, and "described" in detail by their overall make-up and quality. The nuances and progress of the notes within each song are clearly explained as well as illustrated, in a teaching-oriented approach. Alternate songs, flight songs and call notes are included, as well as additional information on nesting, habitat and range. Acting as a useful cross-reference, the second section of the book defines (or groups) birds and their songs, in relation to specific habitats, while a third section groups birds with similar-sounding deliveries, explaining in each case what distinguishes each bird's song within that particular grouping.
The object of the book is not simply to re-tell the standard song description, but to interpret each bird's song in such a way that not just the basic idea is conveyed, but all of the various nuances of the song. Many sources state the basics of a song and stop there. I have tried to add this further dimension, with a view to, hopefully, enhancing the understanding of those trying to learn more about bird song. Over the years, I have combined my own experience and field research (including recordings), with that of a wide variety of other sources available to me, always with a view to refining and building on what I was attempting to convey to other birders, and, for that matter, anyone else trying to learn bird song. I can only hope that I have had some success in the attempt.
Bird Song: Defined, Decoded, Described
by Ernie Jardine
Illustrated by Don Cavin
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