You’ve just stepped outside and there’s an unfamiliar chirping nearby. A quick look around and there is no bird in sight, but the song keeps coming. Frustratingly, you have no idea who is singing. On top of that, you hear a bunch of other birds in the distance.

It’s happened to all of us. That’s why we developed this course.

Jump-start Your Birding-by-Ear Skills

Master techniques for identifying bird songs that you can apply to learning the birds in your area.

  • Build skills using exclusive learning tools
  • Identify birds using real soundscapes
  • Get expert tips from Cornell Lab staff

Bird Song Spotlight Tool

Bird Academy has developed a unique approach to teach you how to listen to bird songs in their natural soundscapes. Watch the video below to see it in action:

Photo: Ryan Schain/Macaulay Library, Kevin J. McGowan, Isaac Sanchez/CC BY 2.0. Audio: Gregory F Budney/Macaulay Library

What’s Inside

Travel across the country exploring real soundscapes with Dr. Sarah Wagner as your guide. She’ll introduce you to an exciting variety of wild voices and bring in Cornell Lab experts to teach you tips and tricks for learning to identify them.

You’ll explore 7 natural soundscapes and get to know 18 featured birds before unleashing your new listening skills on a mystery soundscape. You’ll watch field clips of birds singing, get to know their songs, and then learn to recognize them in context with our Bird Song Spotlight tool. This exclusive learning tool harnesses your visual brain to help you master the tricky task of identifying individual songs from a busy soundscape. This course is all about building techniques that you can immediately apply when you encounter new birds. The skills you’ll develop will bring your bird-watching enjoyment to a new level.

Course Format

The online course is self-paced so you can take it at your own speed and come back to it as often as you wish. For your convenience it is designed to work on all modern web browsers and devices. The course is completely online.

How to Identify Bird Songs uses a unique teaching approach. Travel North America visiting real soundscapes.

Try a free sample lesson

The Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds Essential Set for North America

The Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds

Included for Free: Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds

This authoritative audio collection from the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library is included as a free bonus with the course to help you learn the voices of the birds that live near you. Within the course, you’ll receive online access to this digital collection featuring the most common songs and calls of 729 North American species with more than 1,300 mp3 files included. Another great tool for your birding-by-ear toolbox!

Sign up for How to Identify Bird Songs and get the Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds free!

Only $59.99
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Satisfaction Guarantee

Our educators and birding experts take pride in the courses they create. If you're not satisfied with the material for ANY reason, contact us within 30 days of the start of the course or purchase for a full refund.

Meet the Course Author

Dr. Sarah Wagner

Dr. Sarah Wagner

Sarah Wagner is a course developer for the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy. An accomplished field researcher specializing in feeding biology of birds, Sarah has worked all over the continent and has years of professional experience identifying birds by ear. She is co-author of the Cornell Lab’s university-level online Ornithology course and a public educator in the Lab’s visitor center.

Course credits:

Course Authors: Dr. Sarah Wagner & Dr. Mya Thompson
Instructional Designer & Media Producer: Dr. Mya Thompson
Web & Media Designer: Jeff Szuc
Sound Collections Manager: Matt Young
Photo Collections Manager: Lee Ann van Leer
Copy Editor: Noah Warnke
Advisors: Dr. Marcelo Araya Salas, Dr. Kathi Borgmann, Jessie Barry, Greg Budney, Alex Chang, Ian Davies, Martha Fischer, Katie Fitzmier, Nathaniel Hernandez, Dr. Kevin McGowan, Jay McGowan, Dr. Eliot Miller, Dr. Karan Odom, Matt Young

Video credits:

Videographers: Chris Foito & Karen Rodriguez
Editor: Chris Foito
Appearances by: Kathi Borgmann, Marc Devokaitis, Michael Huffaker, Ashik Rahaman, Mya Thompson, Andrew Weber
Birds imitated (in order of appearance): Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Barred Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Asian Koel, Yellow Warbler—Sweet, Sweet, Sweet. Isn't it Sweet?, White-throated Sparrow—Old Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody!, Olive-sided Flycatcher-Quick three beers!, Eastern Towhee—Drink Your Tea!, Warbling Vireo—I'll see you and I'll seize you and I'll squeeze you 'til you squirt!