How to Identify a Bird Environmental Explorations 2012
Identification • Size of bird • Field marks • Behavior • Song • Habitat • Range
Size • 3 common standards • Sparrow, 5-6 inches long • Robin, 9-11 inches long • Crow, 17- 21 inches long Birds are classified as larger than or smaller than For example a hummingbird would be classified smaller than a sparrow
Field Marks • Distinctive features used to identify a bird • Includes features such as • Color • Bill (beak) size and shape • Tail size and shape • Markings such as wings stripes, patches or color
Robin • For example a robin has gray head wings and tail and an orange breast. These are all field marks.
Northern Flicker • White patch on tail, can you see any other field marks
Eastern Meadowlark • Has a black V on its yellow breast, do you see any other field marks?
Behavior • Feeding • Woodpeckers cling to trunks of trees as they drill inside the wood to find insects • Nuthatches walk head first down a tree trunk
Behavior continued • Turkey vultures soar with wing tips up • Raptors (eagles and hawks) fly with wing tips straight or slightly down tilted
Song • In many birds, song is special activity of males during breeding season • Used as defense of territory • Attract females by repertoire • Bird song can be used to identify as well as count numbers of birds
Habitat • Feeding and nesting sites are very specific by species • Types of habitats include marsh, meadow, woodland, seashore, lakeshore, backyard, city • Storms may blow birds off course during migration and they end up in strange habitats
Confused Herring Gull • Often show up inland during a storm, blown west by wind
Geographic Range • This is where a bird can be found • We have northern species and southern species • We have eastern and western species • We have wide range species and narrow range species • Some bird species occur worldwide and others are specific to very small areas such as a valley
Range maps • All bird guide books have a section of range maps
Other Bird Behaviors • Imprinting: the first thing, living or nonliving a baby birds sees as it hatches is recognized forever as its mother • Philopatry: wherever a bird is born it comes back to that same spot to breed and raise its young, important to migration, also explains why bird populations sometimes increase dramatically, example ducks at BRHS