(noun) A trick to help with memory, such as remembering a specific fact or piece of information. Mnemonics are common with birders to remember distinct bird songs and calls for birding by ear. These types of mnemonics often mimic the rhythm and pattern of a bird's song to help with recall. Examples of popular mnemonics include “drink your teeeee” for the eastern towhee and “who cooks for you, who cooks for you allll” for the barred owl.
Some birds are named for their songs, and their names then become easy mnemonics to remember how the bird sounds. The most common bird name mnemonic is the black-capped chickadee, which has a very distinct “chik-a-dee-dee-dee” call.
Many field guides will note common mnemonics in bird descriptions, but the sounds can be subjective and difficult to translate into actual birdsong for birders who have not heard that specific bird. Birders often prefer to create their own mnemonics after hearing the bird, and noting your personal mnemonics in a birding journal or the margins of a favorite field guide will help you remember what you've heard to help improve your birding by ear skills.
Photo – Towhee Singing © Brendan Lally