Recognizing a bird just from its song is no easy task. Sure, there are recordings you can listen to over and over or you could play a game like Larkwire, but it’s still exceptionally difficult unless you can really internalize the sound.
That’s why mnemonic devices and phonetics are essential.
For those who don’t know, a mnemonic device is a learning technique that associates something you have to remember with something else, such as a song, memorable phrase, or acronym. For example, the ABC song helps children remember the alphabet. “HOMES” is an acronym for the Great Lakes (pop quiz: name them!).
Because bird songs sometimes sound like garbled warbling and random chirping, people have come up with words to associate with the song. (For example, a towhee says drink your tea.) Phonetics, which are similar, use sounds to associate a song with a bird. (For example, a whip-poor-will says whip-poor-will.)