Bird Identification Tips
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN UNFAMILIAR BIRD.
TAKE NOTES. DON'T LOOK AT A FIELD GUIDE UNTIL LATER.
Size: Is it small like a sparrow, medium-sized like a robin, big like a duck, or bigger?
Shape and Posture: Is it chunky or slim? Short-tailed or long-tailed? Upright or upside-down? Note silhouette if that's all you see.
Bill shape: This may be hard to see but helps put the bird with the right group. Thick or thin? Curved or pointed? Size compared with the rest of the bird?
Behavior: Part of a flock or solitary? Does it walk, run or hop? If it's swimming, does it stay on top or dive? What is the foraging behavior? Since a lot of birds are hunting for food as we watch them, notice how and what it eats.
Field marks: What is special in this bird? Note color and pattern of feathers. Sketch a picture of all or parts of the bird.
Bird voices: Is it chirping or singing? Is it musical or just noisy? What is the pattern of the notes? It takes a while to build up a vocabulary of bird songs but it's a great way, sometimes the only way, to identify some species.
NOW look at the bird book. Try to match your picture with one in the book. Then be sure to check the range map, habitat, and season with information from the book or field check list.