Bird Watching Campsites Pacifica CA
You can recognize many birds simply by noting their shapes, even if seen only in silhouette. Other useful characteristics are a bird's posture, size (easiest to judge if you use familiar birds as a size reference), flight pattern and/or head-on flight profile, and the kind of habitat in which the bird was seen. Start by learning to identify general groups of birds — warblers, flycatchers, hawks, owls, wrens — whose members all share certain similarities.
Learn the Basics to Bird Identification
Bird Watching 101
By Maxye and Lou Henry
Have you always wondered how experienced birders can confidently identify birds with just a glimpse? This information from the Cornell University Lab or Ornithology will help you learn the identification skills you need by describing the characteristics birders pay particular attention to in the field.
You can recognize many birds simply by noting their shapes, even if seen only in silhouette. Other useful characteristics are a bird's posture, size (easiest to judge if you use familiar birds as a size reference), flight pattern and/or head-on flight profile, and the kind of habitat in which the bird was seen.
Start by learning to identify general groups of birds — warblers, flycatchers, hawks, owls, wrens — whose members all share certain similarities. As your observation skills improve, familiarize yourself with the field marks — colored or patterned areas on the bird's body, head, and wings — that help distinguish species.
Birds in the same general group often have the same body shape and proportions, although they may vary in size. Silhouette alone gives many clues to a bird's identity, allowing birders to assign a bird to the correct group or even the exact species.
Posture clues can help place a bird in its correct group. Watch an American robin, a common member of the thrush family, strut across a yard. Notice how it takes several steps, then adopts an alert, upright stance with its breast held forward. Other thrushes have similar postures, as do larks and shorebirds.
Once you have assigned a bird to its correct group, size can be a clue to its actual species. Be aware, though, that size can be difficult to determine in the field, especially under poor lighting conditions or at a distance. Size comparisons are most useful when the unknown bird is seen side-by-side with a familiar species. In the absence of that, you can use the sizes of well-known birds, such as the house sparrow, American robin and American crow, as references when trying to identify an unfamiliar bird.
Most birds fly in a straight line, flapping in a constant rhythm, but certain bird groups have characteristic flight patterns that can help identify them. Birds of prey may be identified by the characteristic way they hold their wings when viewed flying toward you.
In general, each species of bird occurs only within certain types of habitat. And each plant community — whether abandoned field, mixed deciduous/coniferous forest, desert or freshwater marsh, for instance — contains its own predictable assortment of birds. Learn which birds to expect in each habitat. You may be able to identify an unfamiliar bird by eliminating from consideration species that usually live in other habitats. (Be aware, though, that during spring and fall migration birds often settle down when they get tired and hungry, regardless of habitat.)
Here are some birding hotspots and the species most likely to be seen ...