Bird Identification Guide

Bird Identification Guide
In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated a total of more than 48 million birders in the United States, accounting for more than 21 percent of the general population. Bird identification is an essential part of birding and may seem daunting at first, but with practice, patience, a good field guide and reliable binoculars, you can quickly learn to identify many of the birds in your area and beyond.

Size and Shape

Observe the size of the bird in relation to birds you know and birds that may be nearby. The silhouette of the bird allows you to quickly determine the shape.


Determine the overall coloration of the bird. Look for light and dark areas.


Note what the bird is doing and how it is doing it. Various bird species feed, fly, perch, and flock in particular ways.


Notice the environment of the bird, the time of year and the geographic location.

Field Marks

A study of bird anatomy will allow you to recognize subtle variations in colorations and patterns.


Birds can often be recognized by the sounds they make. Learning mnemonics and listening to recordings can help prepare you to identify various bird calls.

Article Written By David Chandler

David Chandler has been a freelance writer since 2006 whose work has appeared in various print and online publications. A former reconnaissance Marine, he is an active hiker, diver, kayaker, sailor and angler. He has traveled extensively and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida where he was educated in international studies and microbiology.

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