Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wild Bird Identification

We've noted four new species at our feeder in the past week.  We are now seeing House Finches, American Goldfinches, a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Downy Woodpecker.

We needed to make some positive IDs of our new visitors prior to doing The Great Backyard Birdcount which begins this Friday.  When you see a bird that you do not know, it is best to stay put and make some observations.  Don't go running off to find your field guide!  The bird will probably be gone before you get back.  In short, some things to take note of are its size, shape, field markings (colors and patterns) and behavior.

We've been having fun making little sketches of the birds we've seen.

An excellent tool for identifying your birds is the Printable Tally Sheets available through The Great Backyard Birdcount.  You simply put in your zip code to get a comprehensive list of all birds that live in your area, grouped by type.

For those species that are underlined, you can right click to open in a new tab a page that details their identification, life history and facts, range map, several pictures of that bird including male and female versions, several audio clips of their particular songs and calls (we loved this feature best, instantly recognizing calls we had heard before) and short videos of each species doing what they do.

Here is the bird guide for the Eastern Bluebird, for example.  So many fun things, all in one place!

(Oddly enough, I haven't seen the first male bluebird in my backyard yet this year.  They return ahead of the females to stake out their territory and nesting sites.  I have it marked on my calendar that they usually appear around January 18th.  Most years I have a dozen or more that gather in my corkscrew willow.)

Spend a couple of hours on this very well constructed site and you will know certainly get to know your backyard feathered friends better.