STEM@Home: For the Birds

“Bird Song Hero” and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Academy

Ah, the sweet sounds of a Michigan spring day. The whisper of a breeze, rustling through branches just burst into leaf. The burble of a creek, swollen with snowmelt and April showers. The vibrant trills of songbirds, swooping and nesting overhead. Wouldn’t it be perfect if we could interpret those liquid melodies, and commune with our feathered friends? What might they be saying, those dainty winged creatures?

  • “Hey! That’s my nest! Get out of here!”
  • “Dude, check out my awesome plumage!”
  • “We’re under aerial attack! Duck and cover!”

Huh. Well then. Perhaps the aviary world isn’t as serene as we imagined… but it’s definitely a whole lot more interesting! Spring is the perfect season to find out more about the complex and crazy world of birds all around us. Luckily, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Academy has a virtual toolkit to start your birding adventure off right.

Bird Academy

Definitely not a Hogwarts for birds, Bird Academy is chock-full of videos, tutorials, and games to make learning about birds not only easy but fun. Videos give a solid introduction to different birding concepts, like the “Inside Birding” series that runs down all the basic bird ID concepts. Yeah… birding. That’s a verb now. Also, you’re a “fledgling” birder. See what we did there? Classic birder joke.

The Bird Academy Learning Games page is also particularly fabulous, with thoughtfully designed interactive games for all ages. Unsurprisingly, surrounded by the natural beauty of Earth’s birds, the scientists at Bird Academy created visually compelling games and virtual experiences that suck you in to the world of birds. Check out one of our favorites, Bird Song Hero, below!

Bird Song Hero

One of the most basic skills in a birder’s toolkit is being able to identify what birds are around. But there’s a problem for us curious investigators. Not only are birds expert at camouflage, but they’re as comfortable flitting about thirty feet in the air as pecking for worms in the dirt. Humans? We’re what you might call “grounded.”

Enter Bird Song Hero, an interactive online game that helps you train your ear to figure out what birds are around you using only their distinctive calls. Using spectrograms – technical images that “show” what a bird’s song looks like – lets you quickly learn how to differentiate bird calls by visualizing what you hear!

  • On the Challenge Level, be sure to listen to all three of the bird calls as often as you wish. Can you “read” the spectrograms when the birds sing?
  • Beat the Ultimate Level and score 90% or above. Don’t get tricked by the space robot!
  • Take it past the game and to the biggest, best level… Reality! See if you can identify the birds tweeting in your own backyard with just your own two ears.

Check in with ExploreHope all summer long for fun, hands-on ways to engage with the amazing world all around us.

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