Listening for BirdsWhat can you discover about BC bird songs from the Grace Bell collection?  

Most people are visual birders which is why binoculars are the essential piece of birding field gear. This endeavour is called bird watching. However, many birders search for birds by ear or bird listening.

Each bird has its unique repertoire of calls and songs and these vocalizations may differ between males and females and between young and old. Vocalizations vary geographically too. For example, Orange-Crowned Warblers (Oreothlypis celata) from Canada have a different song compared to those in Utah, and different again from those in California.

Bird calls are far from just pleasant background noise. Calls and songs provide valuable information on species presence and activity even when you cannot see birds in dense forests or marshes. You are far more likely to hear a Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) than see one in a dense stand of cattails. Bird listening can be more rewarding than bird watching.

Grace Bell understood the value of bird listening, and recording bird songs. She loved birds and appreciated the diversity of bird life in this province. What can you learn about birds and bird song from the Royal BC Museum collections?


Read more about Grace Bell, the birds of British Columbia and what goes on behind the scenes at the museum.



Listen to some of Grace Bell’s recordings.



View images of birds Grace Bell recorded.



Find resources for teachers and educators here.