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Bird Watching For Beginners: How To Identify Birds

Jan 31, 2008
If you enjoy watching birds, more than likely you are going to want to learn how you can identify them. While it can be exciting to be able to identify birds, it isn't always a simple task; in fact, it can be downright frustrating much of the time. Of course having a good field guide is an excellent idea. However, you'll have to have some knowledge of your own even to be able to accurately use the field guide. So, if you are a beginner at bird watching, the following are a few tips that can help you more accurately identify birds.

Tip #1 - The Size of the Bird - One thing that will help you identify birds is to first take a look at the size of the bird you are trying to identify. Is it about the size of a large ostrich, maybe chicken size, about the size of a small sparrow, or perhaps the size of a robin? Also, consider whether the bird is plump, on the skinny side, short, or very long. The entire body should be taken into consideration, including the size of the beak, the size of the tail, and the size and shape of the wings as well.

Tip #2 - Note the Colors - Another tip that will help you to more accurately identify birds is to take note of the colors that are on the bird. As you learn which colors certain birds tend to be you'll soon learn how to identify some birds by color alone. However, colors can trick you from time to time. The lighting may affect the color that the bird appears. Be sure to check the colors that are on each part of the body as well. Are the legs a certain color, the wings a specific color, or does it have any specific markings anywhere on the body?

Tip #3 - Where are You? - Believe it or not, your location can actually help you identify birds as well. Take a look around and figure out where you are. Are you out on the water, deep inside a large forest, or perhaps in your front yard? There are certain birds that live in specific habitats. Is the bird in the water, is it wading or swimming, does it actually climb the tree, how and where does it fly, and does it move its tail? These are all questions to ask that can help you out when identifying the birds that you are watching.

Tip #4 - Listen - One of the most important tips for beginner bird watchers that want to identify birds is to listen. Every single bird has a unique song that they sing and if you listen you may be able to identify the bird just by what you hear. If you are listening closely you may even see some birds that you would have never seen otherwise, and while this won't always help you identify a bird, it can definitely help.

So, next time you go out bird watching, keep all of these tips in mind. They'll help you identify the birds you see and have a more fun and rewarding experience out in the wild.
About the Author
William Scott contributes bird watching advice to BirdWatchingAdvice.com, a site dedicated to helping people find the best birding binoculars .
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