How To Better Identify Birds

Bird ID

To identify lesser-known birds, practice answering the following questions, looking at a bird from the top down.

1. Silhouette
Look at the bird’s overall size, shape and posture. Is it the size of something familiar like a sparrow, robin or crow? How does it sit, perch or fly?

2. Head Markings
Does the bird have a colorful or striped cap? Is there a stripe above or through the eye, or does it have an eye ring or “spectacles?” Look for cheek patches or a mustache. Is there a white throat patch?

3. Body Markings
What are the overall back, breast and belly colors? What’s on the chest: a patch, spots, streaks or is it clear? Are the flanks (sides of body) clear or streaked? Is there a white or yellow rump patch?

4. Wing Markings
Are the wings a different color than the body? Are there wing bars or spots?

5. Tail Shape and Markings
Is the tail long or short compared to the body? Is it forked, squared, pointed or another shape? Are there certain colors or vertical or horizontal stripes?

We also offer a variety of binoculars that will provide clear views and field guides that will help you determine a bird’s identity. With practice, you will quickly gather all the clues you need to positively identify birds.

For more tips on how to better identify birds, visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/.