Cardinal female

Ways to Identify Birds?

Spring has sprung, the grass is ris,
I wonder where the boidies is
The boid is on the wing,
But that’s absoid
From what I hoid
The wing is on the boid! – Anon.

There are two ways for the amateur birder to identify birds: by how they look and by how they sound. The best guides will walk you through identification by narrowing categories – shape, size, color – and then show you photos of possibilities.

– One of the most comprehensive online guides is All About Birds by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The guide will help you identify birds you see. There are also tips on how to attract birds to your yard.

If you get bored with your local birds, they have several bird cams you can watch.

– has a regional finder so you can see what birds are in your area and how to attract them. You can find birds’ migration times and routes. There’s an audio section with recordings of the calls of over 550 North American Birds.

Don’t forget to check it out again in fall. It has a list of the 15 best places to see hawks during their fall migration.

– The Guide to North American Bird Songs and Sounds lets you try to identify birds by their songs. Look through the options to find descriptions that most closely match what you’re hearing. Is it one note or more? High or low pitched? Does it change? When you’ve narrowed it down, listed to the recordings and see if you can find a match.

Every year in February, people join together for The Great Backyard Bird Count . You can do it from anywhere in the world. All you need to do is record the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. Then enter the information online. The site provides instructions and tools to help you identify the birds.

It also recommends some phone apps to help you:

Merlin Bird ID, which is free for Android or iOS.
Audubon Bird Identification, which is $3.99 for Android, iOS, Nook, Kindle, and HP Touchpad.

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