Nearly 50,000,000 Americans are “birders,” with nearly half of them traveling to see and view birds in the wild. Perhaps it’s not quite as exciting as bugling an elk to point-blank range, yet identifying birds by sight and sound adds tremendous enjoyment to any outdoor experience — and you don’t need a license or to abide by seasons. Learning bird communications can make you a better hunter, as many silent-bear approaches or sneaky buck saunters have been revealed by a yakking blue jay. Pileated woodpeckers make my blood pump in any deer season as moving animals often cause the big birds to sound off.

POMA 2013 100Learning to identify birds by sight and sound builds woodsmanship, as does learning plants, trees, fungi, and other outdoor phenomena. The better we know and understand our outer environment, the more at peace we become with nature and the greater our sense of enjoyment. The folks at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology are leaders in birding education and offer a chance to boost your knowledge for a minimal price. This is especially important if you have youngsters learning the outdoors, as identifying birds quickly becomes a great game of enjoyment.

Learn the sounds of birds with the Essential Set, an introduction to the most common sounds of 727 bird species found in North America. Whether you’re curious about the birds in your own backyard or interested in the sounds of the full diversity of bird species across North America, this authoritative guide from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will immerse you in the sounds to help you explore. The Essential Set includes 1,376 selected cuts from the comprehensive Master Set, in MP3 format with accompanying photographs.

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Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.