Date: 3/9/17 2:06 pm
From: Larry Modesitt <larry.corvid...>
Subject: [cobirds] Pieplow Field Guide

My copy of the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America, written by fellow Colorado birder, Nathan Pieplow, just arrived.

It is a joy to see this book finally in print, and I can see why it took over a decade to prepare. What an outstanding contribution to birding this is! Those of us who have seen Nathan’s articles in Birding, or heard his talks at DFO, or taken his workshops at CFO or WFO, or followed his blog,, know that Nathan has sought to advance the ability to describe birdsong. He, with help from many other experts, has done this admirably. I believe he is developing a birdsong vocabulary. (As we know, much of science is advanced by development of new or standardized terms, helping us to make finer distinctions). You probably already can tell a trill from a warble, but can you differentiate four different kinds of croaks? Did you know that Nathan has suggested certain splits, based upon birdsong alone? Do your eyes glaze over at the sight of a spectrogram? Nathan’s descriptions demystify them, helping us understand features quickly. His classifications will help birders to identify a bird by its song more readily, and learn those songs more quickly. Nathan developed his knowledge through analysis of recordings, many his own, then analyzing them for their components. We don’t need to know how he did this to use his analysis to our advantage.

I learned to recognize birdsong through the audiotapes “Birding by Ear” by Walton and Lawson in 1989 which taught me to group songs. When I went to Costa Rica, for example, I downloaded new songs into those groupings on my iPod. At the worst, I could narrow down an unfamiliar song to a group on my iPod and review the group to pinpoint the songster. Nathan’s methods go much further. The index, for example, lists types of song, and the birds that sing those types. In addition, recordings (5,400 in total) accompany each bird included.

Are you just beginning to learn to recognize birdsong by ear? This will accelerate your learning. Are you an expert who can recognize songs and calls from all species in North America? This book will help you appreciate differences and meanings in an individual’s song

Portrayed is birdsong of 520 eastern birds, most of which also occur in the west, again helping with identification and learning of specific birds. Don’t be put off by the lack of Townsend’s Warbler song. Buy this book to learn how to be a better birder. Remember, experts (not me) identify 90% of the birds by their songs. (I have no financial interest in this book). Check it out on


Larry Modesitt
Bird Conservancy of the Rockies <>

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