Bird Watching For Beginners: How To Identify Birds

August 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Featured

If you like to watch birds, then it most likely that you will want to know how to identify different species. Although it can be very exciting to identify birds, it can also be a very difficult task, especially at first – this can get a lot of new birders very frustrated. If you own a field guide this process will be significantly less painful, however you will also need to have some knowledge already to be able to use your field guide – so, if you are new to birding then these tips should help you get started and avoid that frustration.

First Tip – Pay attention to the size of the bird you are hoping to identify, as it naturally plays a very important part in the process. Does it look to be the same size as a flamingo, a rooster, the size of a pigeon, or maybe an eagle? You will also need to consider whether or not its body appears to be long, short, thin, or round. It’s whole body should be observed, and this includes the size of the bird’s tail, beak and wings. All of these are vital in being able to easily identify the species, which you will find very rewarding once achieved.

Second Tip – Pay attention to coloring. Making sure that you take accurate notes on a bird’s colors is an important of the identification process. Gradually you will get a natural idea of what colors certain birds typically are, and will be able to tell them apart simply by that – although you should keep in mind that colors can trip you up sometimes. Lighting can play a part in how the bird looks, so make sure that you check the colors of specific body parts; especially the wings, the legs and whether or not the bird has any distinctive markings anywhere on its body.

Third Tip – Where are you situated? Your location can be a great help in identifying birds. Have a look at your surroundings and consider where you are. Would you say that it was a forest? A desert? Perhaps in your own garden? There will be birds that are native to whichever type of habitat you are located in. Take notes on whether or not the bird is in water, and if it is, is it paddling or swimming? What about trees? Does it seem to climb it, or just fly up? Does its tail move in any noticeable way? All of these notes will be vital when it comes time to look up what species you have been seen, so pay very careful attention to avoid missing any important details.

Fourth And Final Tip – Keep your ears open. One of the most important things that a beginner birder can do to help them learn how to identify different species of birds is simply to listen. Each bird has its own unique sound, and in time you will come to learn how to identify many species just by their songs. If you listen hard enough it is sometimes possible to find birds that you would have missed had you only been using your eyes – and while you wont be able to identify a bird you cant see, it may help you to locate them.

If you keep all of these things in mind when you take your first bird hunting trip you will have much more fun as you can avoid the normal frustration beginners tend to experience.

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Paradise Tanager: The Brilliant Bird of Many Colors

August 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Nature

Turquoise Tanager (Tangara mexicana), National...
Image via Wikipedia
The Paradise Tanager‘s scientific name is the Tangara Chilensis, and it is recognizable by its splendid bright colors. It is a medium sized song bird and it lives in the forests of South America. Its colors are like no other bird, with seven different shades all over its body which make it stand out amongst the trees. Its head is a bright, almost neon, green, and its belly is a dark, rich, sea green. The bird’s tail and wings tend to be tipped with a fantastic, bright yellow, and the lower end of its back is typically a dark, blood red. The Paradise Tanager’s shoulders are also a pitch black, and is often how bird watchers are able to quickly identify the species.

Both the female and male of this particular species are very similar in appearance, which makes it quite hard to tell them apart at first sight. If you wish to know the gender of one of these birds you will need to watch how it behaves. The male tends to sing more frequently, and obviously if you found one has laid eggs you know it must be the female! When mating, Tanagers prefer to set up their nest high up in the trees out of the reach of potential predators, and in a humid atmosphere – this helps their eggs develop well. A female bird will lay between two and three eggs at a time, and it will only be a matter of two weeks before they hatch.

Living all over South America, the Paradise Tanager tends to stay mostly in the Amazon Basin and the surrounding areas, including Brazil, Venezuela, Peru and of course Columbia. Strangely, the bird is not typically found in the Amazon’s south, only the north, and generally within the forest or at its more humid edges. It seems that the Tanager is most often found in the forest itself, and thrives best in this area. It is a very rare bird, and sadly is currently on a list of threatened species.

The size of the Paradise Tanager is roughly 13 to 15 cm in length, or around 6 to 8 inches – meaning that it may be kept as a pet bird if you own a large cage and can provide it with plenty of water. Because their natural habitat is in the Amazon, these birds should live on a diet of fresh and tropical fruits and nuts if they are being kept in captivity. You can feed them bananas, pears, figs and slice of orange. The bird will be happiest if it is also regularly offered a selection of small insects, including crickets, meal worms and fruit flies. If you take proper care of your pet it will be a life long friend, however they do require several hours of attention a day to remain healthy, so it is ill advised to keep, or especially breed, them in captivity.

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