Growing up in South Dakota, I got started identifying bird songs by studying the classic “Birding By Ear” field guides in the Peterson series. It wasn’t until 2003, when I faced the frustrations of studying sounds for my first trips to Mexico and Costa Rica, that I became dedicated to finding new and better ways to learn, describe, and catalog bird sounds. Along the way I became a sound recordist and an amateur ethologist (a student of animal behavior).
I’m not one of those superhuman beings who can identify every singing bird, or discern the nocturnal flight call of a Blackpoll Warbler as it passes overhead in the dark. My high-frequency hearing is getting worse every year, and I don’t have a great auditory memory. For me to learn bird sounds, I wanted more resources: more recordings, better glossaries, deeper discussions. So I set out to create my own resources. These pages are part of the result. The Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds is another part.
I live in Boulder, Colorado, where I teach writing and rhetoric at the University of Colorado. I am a former editor of the quarterly journal
I started watching birds when I was about five, but didn’t start recording until after my first trip to South America, to Ecuador in 2006. While there I realized that the ability to record birds in the tropic was absolutely fundamental to fully enjoying South American birding, and as soon as I got back I bought my first recording rig.
In the few years since then I have become ever more deeply obsessed with recording…what at first was something to help call unknown birds in and document unknown sounds for later identification became a quest to record as many species, songs, and call types as I could. As a result I have traveled around much of the US and South America recording birds. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org