I asked if he knows the bird calls, and he said that that's mostly what he uses to count birds; he rarely actually sees them.
Me, I'm really bad at recognizing bird calls: chickadees, sure; acorn woodpeckers, yeah; red-shouldered hawks; Anna's hummingbirds. (Okay, hummingbirds just do a raspy little trills, not songs per se, but still: I always know when there's a hummingbird around. It counts!) Also black oystercatchers, belted kingfishers, crows, mourning doves, willets.
Sibley or Cornell Lab of Ornithology sound recordings and ID the bird. But no.
I asked what Spencer's favorite bird call is, and he immediately said, "The springtime song of the black-headed grosbeak." He summoned it up on his app. It sounds like this:
Wait—is that what I heard?????
Well, might be. In the meantime, Spencer has played the calls of the American robin, western tanager, and American goldfinch, and they all sound . . . chirpy! Happy! Cheery! Kinda like what I remember that original birdy conversation sounding like. (Meanwhile, Spencer parsed the "reedy" sound of the robin, the trilling intro of the tanager, and other specifics of each of those birds' songs. Where I just hear chirpy and happy, he hears individual species. It's impressive.)
We do get black-headed grosbeaks, and we're always delighted to see them. As for hearing them, I guess I'll keep my ears open.