Backyard Bird Identification

Backyard Bird Identification
Observing birds in our backyards is a popular activity. While most anyone can identify a cardinal or a robin, many birds may be unfamiliar. With more than 800 species of birds in the United States, a little help may be needed to figure just what kind of bird we may see (see Reference 1). Grab a set of binoculars and a field guide and become one of the 50 million people who enjoy watching birds (see Reference 2).


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Binoculars Field guide
  • Binoculars
  • Field guide
Step 1
Pay attention to the size and shape of the unknown bird. Draw a silhouette of the bird if possible. Take notice of the size and shape of the beak.
Step 2
Notice the habitat where the bird was spotted. Birds live in very specific areas and this can be a big tip-off to their identity.
Step 3
Note colors and markings. Is there a certain pattern of light and dark in the bird's coloring? Look for distinctive wing markings when the bird is flying.
Step 4
Study behavior and flying patterns. Many birds make unusual movements or have unique habits. Watch what and how the bird feeds.
Step 5
Armed with your observations and notes, consult the field guide. Study the shape of the bird, along with the colors. Read the description for information about the bird's habits and habitats. After studying all the information, identify your bird.

Tips & Warnings

Listen for the bird's call. Many have distinctive calls that may aid in identification.

Article Written By Daniel Ray

Daniel Ray has been writing for over 15 years. He has been published in "Florida Sportsman" magazine. He holds an FAA airframe and powerplant license and FCC radiotelephone license, and is also a licensed private pilot. He attended the University of South Florida.

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