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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