Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Seven methods of identifying birds:

Western Meadowlark Western Meadowlark at Newport, Oregon on 7 March, 2010 by Greg Gillson.


We have now concluded the Seven methods of identifying birds.
[Answer to Quiz 7: Turkey Vulture]

To improve your bird identification skills you will want to practice using all 7 of these clues that birds give to you.

How did you do on the quizzes? They were designed to be fairly easy and to show that you already use these 7 methods to some degree.

Remember that your view may not allow you to identify the bird to species with each method. In some cases you may get to just the family, such as nuthatch or gull.

Obviously, if the bird doesn't sing or fly while you observe it, you can't use that method this time.

Let's review, using the bird in the above photo.

The Western Meadowlark in the photo above can be identified using all 7 methods.
1: Color and pattern-- The yellow breast with black breast band instantly identifies this bird as a meadowlark.
2: Structure-- The flat head with sharp pointed bill nearly as long as the head, plump body, and short tail identify this bird as a meadowlark.
3: Feather-by-feather-- The yellow on the submustachial stripe identifies this bird as Western Meadowlark, rather than Eastern Meadowlark. Also, if you could see the outer 3rd tail feather, it would have much less extensive white on it than an Eastern Meadowlark.
4: Sounds-- The flute-like song of Western Meadowlark is quite different from the rising and falling whistle of Eastern Meadowlark.
5: Expectation-- No Eastern Meadowlark has ever been found in the Pacific Northwest. Any meadowlark here must be Western Meadowlark--though you are certainly welcome to look.
6: Behavior-- Lone or paired pudgy, short-tailed birds sitting rather horizontally on a fenceline or telephone wire in open country will separate most meadowlarks from similarly sized and shaped birds, including starlings.
7: Flight-- Meadowlarks fly distinctively in rather level flight with periodic bursts of flapping and brief glides on rounded wings.

1 comment:

  1. I have greatly enjoyed this entire series, and learned a lot about making field IDs. My own technique has been so much less exact. I'll be practicing your suggestions as I try to gain more experience in field identification.