Basics of bird watching

Identifying – What?

To identify a bird we should try to identify the following things:

Size & Shape: Body size, Beaks, Legs & feet, Silhouette etc.
Appearance: Plumage, color patterns, patterns on body parts etc.
Habitat: Habitat, location etc.
Behaviour: Movement type, flying pattern, feeding patterns, Songs or calls, stays in group or alone etc.

Size & Shape:

Beak size: long, stout, thin, straight, curve etc.
Relative Body size: w.r.t. a Sparrow, a Robin or a Crow
Shape of Head: large / flat / rounded / crested head, head w/o crest etc.
Tail: long / long narrow tail, notched / floppy / square tipped tail etc.
Legs & feet: long legs, clinging feet, flat feet etc.
other features like: tiny , sleek, compact ,plump , long wings, wings till the tip of tail, long beak compared to head , lanky, fairly flat headed large bill, large plover, swept-back crest, triangular crest, large eyes etc.

Appearance:

Identifying points are crisp color, rufous cap, streaking on the breast or back, eye-lines, belly color, red & yellow accents on wings & tails, bands across breast, pale throat & underparts, wing-bars, bright color, dark barred wings and tails, buffy sides, white cheek, blue necklace

Habitat:

Identifying points are – deep forest, open woods, forests with grassy clearings, parks, roadsides, yards, marsh or swap, expansive prairies, rocky areas, far from water s often, scrubby habitat, forest edges etc.
location: this is an important clue which helps to rule out bird species not found in your region during that part of year.

Behaviour:

Movement type: walk, hop, inquisitive, runs swiftly, busy, acrobatic, moves in long hops, hops quickly through tangles and low branches etc.
Flying pattern: in flight seem under-powered & slow, breaks into stiff winged flights etc
Social: In flocks often, found in solitude often etc.
Songs and calls: vocalized, sings from high trees, sings frequently, piercing calls, high thrill calss etc.
Feeding pattern: feeds alone, in group, on open ground, catches insects over open water, flit out from tree grab a bug & flit back etc.
other features like: tiny bird, sleek, compact size,plump body, long wings, wings till the tip of tail, long beak compared to head size, lanky, fairly flat headed large bill, large plover, swept-back crest, triangular crest, large eyes etc.

Identifying – When?

Another important thing to keep in mind while identifying a bird is ‘When’. That is, the knowledge of, ‘When’ the probability of spotting a particular species of bird is the most or the least.

Time of Day

A knowledge of birds seen during a specific part of the day, helps us in eliminating species that are not so active in a particular part of the day.

Season

A knowledge of birds found in a particular region during a particular season helps us in identification by giving us clue to eliminate species that are not found during that season in that specific area.