Though you may be drawn to watching birds because of their wonderful colors or fascinating behavior, when it comes to making identifications, size and shape are the first pieces of information you should examine.
With just a little practice and observation, you'll find that differences will jump out at you. Study the sillouettes in the picture and see how well you can identify a bird just by the combination of size and shape.Sillouette Answers: 1. Great Horned Owl, 2. American Crow, 3. European Starlings, 4. White-breasted Nuthatch, 5. Cooper's Hawk, 6. Blue Jay, 7. American Goldfinch, 8. Carolina Wren, 9. Woodpecker, 10. Northern Cardinal, 11. Black-capped Chickadee, 12. Mourning Doves, 13. Fox Squirrel, 14. House Sparrows, 15. American Robin
To become more familiar with silhouettes go to: AllAboutBirds.com-Size and Shape
As a Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) participant, you can learn how to identify birds by looking at:
- Look at the bird’s overall size, shape and posture. Is it the size of something familiar like a sparrow, robin or crow? How does it sit, perch or fly?
2. Head Markings- Does the bird have a colorful or striped cap, also known as a crown? Is there a stripe above or through the eye, or does it have an eye ring or “spectacles?” Look for cheek patches or a mustache. Is there a white throat patch?
3. Body Markings
- What are the overall back, breast and belly colors? What’s on the chest: a patch, spots, streaks or is it clear? Are the flanks (sides of body) clear or streaked? Is there a white or yellow rump patch?
4. Wing Markings
- Are the wings a different color than the body? Are there wing bars or spots?
5. Tail Shape and Markings- Is the tail long or short compared to the body? Is it forked, squared, pointed or another shape? Are there certain colors or vertical or horizontal stripes?
Wild Birds Unlimited has a variety of binoculars that will provide clear views and birds of Michigan field guides that will also help you determine a bird’s identity. With practice, you will quickly gather all the clues you need to positively identify birds.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an opportunity to form a deeper connection with the natural world outside your door while providing data to scientists that would otherwise not be available. For more tips on how to better identify birds, visit http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/learning