Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Seven methods of identifying birds:
#1: Color and pattern

This post continues the discussion of the Seven methods of identifying birds.

Color and pattern:

This is the basis of the "Peterson System" of bird identification. The Peterson System illustrates birds all in the same pose, with patternistic drawings. Arrows then point to the unique area of color or pattern on a bird that separate it from similar species. Wing bars, eye rings, eyebrow stripes, tail spots, and all such feather groupings are used in a stylized way to aid identification. Ingenious.

Newer birders start here. Sadly, many never advance because they don't learn the remaining methods of identifying birds. And it doesn't help that some "field guides" are arranged by color, effectively preventing bird watchers from advancing further.

Quiz) A yellow bird with black wings and tail and red face.

Next: Structure


  1. Sounds like a Western Tanager. Is it cheating to use the iBird Explorer search function? The Sibley iPhone app also found it, but not as easily. iBird narrowed the search to 1 result, Sibley to 12, using only color.

  2. Very interesting, Dave. I appreciate the comparison of these smart phone apps.

    I am now interested in how each of the other 6 methods of bird ID are incorporated into these apps.

    Stay tuned!