Activity of the month

Make a bird ID dial and sound map

March is a special time as all across the Downs spring is awakening. The distinctive song of a little brown bird called a chiffchaff (named after its ‘chiff-chaff’ song) can be heard. They have just migrated back from Africa where they spent the winter. And it’s not the only bird you will hear…

This special month marks the start of the dawn chorus when, as the sun rises, all the birds join together in song. Like an orchestra with different instruments, each species has its own distinctive song. Of course birds can be heard throughout the day and it is easier to hear them individually, when they are not all singing together in the dawn chorus. Why not visit the Downs and see which birds can you hear? Will it be the ‘teacher-teacher’ call of the great-tit or the tinkling wind chime-like sound of the goldfinch? It could even be the cronking call of a big black raven.

By following the instructions on this month’s activity sheet, you can record the birds you hear by making your own bird sound map. Then use your detective skills to identify any birds you spot using our handy Downs bird identification dial.

You will need

● thin white card or paper
● scissors
● a pen
● blue-tac
● a split pin

● a piece of sturdy cardboard
● a pen or felt tip
● listening ears
● patience!

Step-by-step guide

How to make the Downs bird ID dial:

1. Print out the ID (identification) dial discs.

2. Carefully cut them out.

3. Make a hole in the centre of both discs (where there is a cross mark).

4. Push the split pin through both discs and secure at the back.


How to draw a bird sound map:

1. Find a quiet spot to wait.

2. Draw yourself as a stick person in the middle of the card.

3. Stay very still and listen carefully.

4. When you hear a bird call or sing, think of a symbol or word to represent the sound. Where did the sound come from? Draw your symbol in that position on your card.

5. Continue to do this using a variety of symbols.

Photographs © Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project.