As much as I appreciate the juncos at my feeding station, I’m ready for spring.  I was going over some of my bird lists from 2010 to turn in on eBird (I know, I’m a slacker about turning those in) I found my ears practically salivating for a red-winged blackbird trill.  Then I realized, this is February…I could hear that call in about four weeks, maybe less.  Wow, perhaps spring will be here before I know it and I should brush up on my bird calls.

I don’t know about you, but to me, warbler song is like a foreign language.  If I do not use it all the time, I forget some key phrases.  So I like to prepare.  One of my favorite ways is to play the DVD Watching Warblers. The filmmakers get heartbreaking video footage–it’s hard enough to watch warblers, I can’t imagine how many hours went in to getting this amazing video footage. I keep this on in the background when I’m tidying up my apartment or if I can, play it as a background when I’m working in my park’s visitor center.

It’s a trick I learned when I worked for a wild bird specialty store years ago.  As part of our store’s ambiance, we played bird id CDs all day long.  Let me tell you, listening to Lang Elliot narrate bird calls for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, burns those bird calls into your brain like Muzak burns Barry Manilow songs into your psyche.

The other bonus is that when you are faced with a day of sub zero temperatures and if you’re lucky, the thermometer will hit 1 degree Fahrenheit, you get a taste of lovely bird calls.

Another thing I do this time of year is plan on birding travel.  I’ve been planning some trips to festivals for the spring out west to Utah (the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival) and North Dakota (Potholes and Prairie Bird Fest, awesome birding) and I’m excited to see that the people who make Watching Warblers also have a DVD for sparrows and western warblers so I can prep for that too!

So, how about you, what do you do to prepare for your spring birding?  How early do you start?

Written by Birdchick
Sharon Stiteler was given a Peterson Field Guide to Birds when she was seven years old and snapped. She loves birds - it’s just the way she’s wired. Since 1997, she has made it her goal to get paid to go birding. She runs the popular birding blog,, and has been in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on NBC Nightly News as well as making regular appearances on Twin Cities’ TV and radio stations. She’s a professional speaker and story-teller and her writing can be found in several publications including WildBird Magazine, Outdoor News, and Birding Business. She wrote the books 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know, Disapproving Rabbits and City Birds/Country Birds. When she’s not digiscoping, tweeting or banding birds, she’s a part-time park ranger and award-winning beekeeper.