Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review of Bird Language with Jon Young

Bird Language With Jon Young
Jon Young is a birder, naturalist, and tracker who is an expert at bird language. He is the author of What the Robin Knows and has now produced Bird Language, a two-DVD set. These DVDs are designed to help you understand what birds voices mean and the behaviors associated with those voices.

Many birders are unaware of what different bird sounds mean and what their actions indicate. As Mr. Young says, "We don't have to know bird language to survive so we don't learn it."

In the DVD he explains these five voices:
  1. song
  2. companion call
  3. territorial aggression
  4. begging
  5. alarm
Besides covering voices, Mr. Young describes the various "shapes of alarms". These are the motions associated with causes that disrupt birds normal or "baseline" activities. The worst is the "bird plow", often caused by a human walking briskly and one that is well known among birders: the flushing of a group of birds. Other shapes will help you identify a trotting canine, a hunting cat, or a fast moving accipiter before they come on to the scene.

Each of the shapes is accompanied by an animation along with video clips of birds in action. A handy, laminated card is included with the DVD set, giving a quick reference to the various alarm shapes as well as an example of a "sit spot" used for studying bird language.
Rajah Watching "Bird Language"
This is our cat Rajah entranced by Bird Language
Mr. Young contends that to help learn bird language you should focus and learn five, or less, common species that you often see. He uses American Robin, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, wren (any wren), and towhee (spotted for him).

Each of these birds provides different qualities but they share a commonality that provide a great start to learning bird language. You can pick just about any song birds but avoid corvids (crows, ravens, jays).
Spotted Towhee
Spotted Towhee; Eastern Towhee works well too
The second DVD focuses on bird language groups. Five experts describe what is necessary to create a group bird sit. Group sits help cover an area more completely and discover information that would be missed if you were by yourself.

I loved reading What the Robin Knows and this DVD set really helps to make bird language more understandable and in the reach of all birders.

Bird Language is produced by Village Video.

- Eddie Callaway -

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