Gearhead: How to savor the (real) tweets of spring

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Have you noticed the increase in bird songs lately? For the last few weeks, when the rain stops and the sun makes an appearance, the birds can’t seem to get enough of singing and calling out. Just like the humans they share space with, they’re eager to jump into spring.

If you’re wondering who, exactly, is making those calls, treat yourself to “Bird Songs of California,” by Geoffrey A. Keller (a production of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library).

“Bird Songs of California” is the digital version of a three-CD set released by the Library in 2003. It offers songs and calls of more than 220 bird species that are permanent residents or summer breeders in California. Simply download the files to a computer, transfer them to any device that can play mp3 files, and soon you’ll be listening to the calls of the Western Wood Pewee, Wilson’s Warbler, the Evening Grosbeak, the Bald Eagle and more than 200 others. You could also try your luck at discerning the difference between calls of six kinds of woodpeckers or nine types of flycatchers.

The download comes with photographs. An alphabetized list of common names and corresponding track numbers is provided for quickly locating a particular species’ track number. An additional download contains the track list, with common and scientific names for each bird and a song/call description. $24.99.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology also offers — for free — a download of “Voices of Western Backyard Birds,” a compilation of 14 common species found throughout the western United States.

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