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David Sibley gives simple tricks for locating a bird you can hear but can’t see

Baltimore Oriole produces a rich, clear whistle. Triangulation will help determine how far away the bird is. Tilting your head will fix the height of its favorite perch. Art by David Sibley.
Baltimore Oriole produces a rich, clear whistle. Triangulation will help determine how far away the bird is. Tilting your head will fix the height of its favorite perch. Art by David Sibley.

Spring is the season for birdsong, but seeing the singer can sometimes be a challenge. Here are simple tricks that will help you locate a singing bird.

Our brain determines the direction of a noise based on when the sound reaches each ear. A sound coming from the right will reach your right ear a fraction of a second sooner than your left ear. Your brain calculates the difference and pinpoints the direction.

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David Sibley

David Sibley

David Sibley writes the column “ID Toolkit” in every issue of BirdWatching. He published the Sibley Guide to Birds in 2000, the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior in 2001, and Sibley’s Birding Basics in 2002. He is also the author of the Sibley Guide to Trees (2009), the Sibley Guide to Birds-Second Edition (2014), and guides to birds of eastern and western North America (2016). He is the recipient of the American Birding Association’s Roger Tory Peterson Award for lifetime achievement in promoting the cause of birding and a recognition award from the National Wildlife Refuge System for his support of bird conservation.

David Sibley on social media