Congratulations to Larry N. Ross who wrote on 98-12-18:
<< As someone who is still relatively new to the game of birding I find it
easier to learn birds by sound first. Learning the physical features of
each species comes easier if I can identify the bird first by call. >>
After many years of birding I still find I rather know the birds by sound that
by sight. Every winter I struggle with relearning the differences between the
various plumages of the dowitchers, tha small flycatchers, etc, but the calls,
once learned, stick with me. The same goes for sparrows and wrens, where the
differences in plumage aren't so subtle, and some of the calls are. I found,
when teaching boy scouts, that they could quickly learn the required voices of
15 birds, and the knowledge would stick with them.
So beginners should realize that some of them should turn their attention
to voices from the start.
Others, of course, will have difficulty with hearing or with memory for
sound, and they will just continue to learn by sight. Older people who can
still hear birds well should be aware that some younger people with good
hearing acuity can derive more information from the complexity of a sound that
someone who does not hear quite as well. This is the reason, in my opinion,
that some can readily distinguish the vireo songs while others have trouble,
and why older people, like me, find it harder each year.
What do others think?