When it comes to recognizing bird species, the ears may be as important as the eyes.
“Start learning the different bird sounds,” is the advice from Georgia bird expert Joe LaFleur, 43, producer of a DVD titled “Better Bird-watching in the Southwest” which is available locally.
Recognizing bird sounds is part of the key to identifying them, he said.
“Like anything else, it takes practice and repetition. Get out there and listen to the birds,” he said. “Once you hear it 100 times, you recognize it — it's like exercising a muscle.”
LaFleur's DVD is available at Wild Birds Unlimited stores at NW 63 St. and Western Ave. in Oklahoma City and at 3770 W Robinson St., Suite 104 in Norman. It can also be purchased through his website.
Kaye Cohn, co-owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Oklahoma City, said the store also offers field guides, feeders, birdbaths, seed and other materials helpful to anyone getting started.
“We help people know who is coming into their yard,” Cohn said.
LaFleur, of Mineral Bluff, Ga., lived in New Mexico several years and has made many trips to Oklahoma searching for bird species.
In a telephone interview, he said he has visited Oklahoma City, the Lake Thunderbird area and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Birds are often hard to see, he said, so learning their sounds can be a critical step in identifying them. Songs are similar within a species but vary by geographic region and even among individual birds.
Cohn said business in her store has been steady over the 20 years it has been open as new people become interested in feeding and identifying birds.
“We want people to enjoy it, so we make things as easy as possible. It's a fun hobby.”