The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Joy of Birdwatching Activities: Bird ID Practice

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      Bird Academy
      Share your experience participating in this lesson's activities. Comment on as many or as few activities as you'd like.
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    • Sally
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Just wrote this but somehow I lost the connection. this was a great chapter! I have been able to study and know instantly now the difference between my summer tanager and the cardinals in my yard. Also I have all 3 woodpeckers this summer - Downy, Red bellied and Red headed. mostly I see the red bellied but all 3 visit me regularly!! Thank heavens for Merlin because the song always verifies my visual identifications. Thank you!!
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Wow - I love this program, and this corse was awesome for its detailed info., the activities helped deepen the experience & aid the in remembering.    Thank you 🙏🏼
    • Lorri
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Activity 4: A bird I have been intrigued by recently is the Barn Swallow. Size and shape: The barn swallow is a small bird a bit larger than a sparrow. It can be identified in flight by its forked tail. Color pattern and markings: The barn swallows head and back is a dark blue color. It has an orange check with some white on it. Behavior: I often see the barn swallow swooping over the water to eat bugs on the surface. It is a fast bird that often dives toward the water. Habitat and range: I have seen the barn swallow in wetlands, flying over water, and flying near barns where it sometimes nests. Sounds: I have not found its sounds to be particularly distinctive. It appear to make a series of rather chaotic chirps.
    • Lorri
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Activity 3: Three food gathering behaviors that I have seen recently are: 1. The Canada Goose tips sideways in the water to eat water plants and fish under the water. 2. The Downy Woodpecker stands on the side of dead trees to forage for insects in the dead tree trunk. 3. The American Robin hops around on the grass to pull up worms an insects from the dirt.
    • Lorri
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Activity 2: Three birds that have the same colors but different markings include the Common Yellowthroat, the Yellow Warbler, and the American Goldfinch. The Common Yellowthroat has a yellow breast and black mask, the Yellow Warbler is yellow all over with the exception some black on the wing feathers below, and the American Goldfinch also has a yellow breast, and black cap and wings.   Yellow bird
    • Lorri
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Sand Hill Cranes Activity 1: Two birds that I can tell apart are the Sandhill Crane and the Great Blue Heron. Both birds are large, have long necks and legs, and wade in the water. It can be difficult to tell them apart when flying. I have realized, however, that the Sandhill Crane above has a straighter neck while the Great Blue Heron's neck is more of an S-shape. While the Sandhill Crane's neck has some curvature while wade it is less pronounced than the Great Blue Heron.
    • Debbie
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Activity 2 Find 3 birds that have the same color on different parts of their body.  I chose to use red. 1. The Red-bellied Woodpecker, despite its name does not have a red belly.  It has a bright red stripe on the top and back of its head. 2. The Red Winged Blackbird has a bright red bar across the top of each of its wings, with a yellow bar directly below it.  The rest of the body is black. 3. The House Finch has a red head.  The rest of its body is predominately brown. 4.  I have to add the male Northern Cardinal which is almost all red with black accents mainly around the eyes and beak.   Activity 1  Identify 2 birds you can tell apart just by shape. The female cardinal and the House Finch are both birds that are predominately brown with red markings.  However, the cardinal is a bit bigger and has a crest and a bit longer tail.  The House Finch has no crest and is a rounder bird.
    • Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      We come to Belgium for a vacation and I have been using food gathering and habitat to help with identification.   When arriving I saw the common cuckoo hovering over a grassing area in the airport. It then dove into the grass for food. I watched many Eurasian Jackdaws foraging on the ground, and I saw an Eurasian blackbird doing the same. The Jackdaws and Blackbirds looked very similar except for the color of the beak.
    • Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity 2:  This morning I found 3 birds with the color red.  A Robin with a red breast, a House Sparrow with red on his head, and a House Finch with red on his head & chest. Robin Hinckley ParkHouse Sparrow PHLhouse finch
    • Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity 1:  Cormorants & Gulls together on a rock on a foggy day.  It is easy to distinguish the cormorants from the gulls by shape.  The cormorant is slim with longer neck & beak.  The gulls are more compact with larger head & rounder body.  It's not as easy to distinguish one type of gull from another.  According to Merlin there are Herring Gulls, Great Black-Backed Gulls & nearby were some Laughing Gulls. gulls n cormorants KC
    • mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Activity 1: I observed a canada goose in my yard. Pretty easy to identify given the longer neck, short legs and tale and large body. In contrast I had a ruby-throated hummingbird at my feeder which was tiny. Activity 2:I daw an American crow in my front yard which was black all over, a red winged blackbird that had a spot of red on it's wings, and an american robin that had a black head, wings, and tail. Activity 3: American robins look for food on the ground, along with the crow. The hummingbird was at our feeder drinking the sugar water (nector) Activity 4:I guess my favorite bird in this area is the american cardinal. Colors are different for males who are red, with a mask of black around the eyes and chin.They are robin sized, short neck, round body, and medium wings. Beak is short
    • Jason
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Activity 3 - Chestnut-backed Chickadees will fly to feeders and collect a few seeds before flying off. Dark-eyed Juncos are more frequently found along the ground scavenging seeds that fall from feeders, but they sometimes visit the feeders too. I don't usually see American Robins at feeders, instead the are on the ground looking for bugs or worms- sometimes in flocks.
    • Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I identified a roadrunner because they are out on the somewhat rural roads where I live this time of year. I identified this bird by its size, the fact that it was "running on the road" (roadrunner), and its long tail. I did not take a photo of it. Additionally I've been watching a blue scrub jay. It is not a blue bird, and I identified it on Merlin and in my bird book. Its larger than most birds that get on the feeder, including a bit larger than the male Northern Cardinals. I love its blue feathers, distinct from most of the birds that visit my oak grove.
    • Krystal
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      Exercise 2: redwing blackbird - red epaulets (though they appear more orange in some photos) male northern cardinal - entire body while female has reddish coloring on her tale and wings hairy woodpecker - back of neck
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity Two.  I chose to observe the color white. The dark-eyed junco has white on his belly and on the edges of his tail and wing feathers.  The rest of his body is slate gray.  The ruby-crowned kinglet has a white bar on his wings and a white eye ring.  Most of his body is olive-gray in color with a red spot on his crown.  The black-capped chickadee has white feathers on the sides of his head and white stripes on his wings.  He has a black cap on his head , as well as a black throat, and black on his wings and tail.  His belly is buff-colored. Activity Three: The Great Blue Heron at the nature center stands very quietly at the edge of the pond, looking intently in the water for his prey.  When he sees something he wants to eat, he quickly dips his head into the water to nab it.  The dark-eyed junco prefers to look for seeds to eat on the ground.  He seldom tries to perch on the tube feeder, although he will fly up to the deck rails to eat seeds when we place them there.  The downy woodpecker flies to the suet feeder or the cylinder feeder to eat.  I have never seen him on the ground or the tube feeder, but I have often seen him on the side of a tree looking for bugs to eat.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity 2: I found three birds in my neighborhood that have black on different parts of their bodies. The male House Sparrow has black on his throat and upper chest and around his eye. His back is brown and gray with narrow black stripes. His tummy is very light brown. His head is gray on top and on the cheek with a thick brown stripe in between. The Dark-eyed Junco is black all over except his belly, legs, and beak. The beak is pink and the belly is white. The Black-capped Chickadee has a black throat and top of head. There is a white band extending from the beak almost to the back of the neck. The back and tail are gray and the belly is very pale. The beak is black and the legs are gray.
    • Carey
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Activity 4 - My favorite bird is the Bohemian Waxwing.  A Bohemian waxwing is about the size of a robin with a square tipped tail and a crest on its head.  Overall it has a buffy gray tone with a black mask and red/rust coloured head.  It can most easily be distinguished from the Cedar Waxwing by its rusty colouring under the tail; Cedar waxwing has white colouring under its tail.  Where I live in southwest Alberta, they can more likely be found in the non breeding season.   They are commonly found in large flocks in fall devouring any berries left on the plants especially serviceberry and juniper where I live.  In winter they tend toward smaller flocks and range further for food.  They make a high pitched trill sound.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity 1 - compared American Robin and White-Breasted Nuthatch.  Used Merlin for Sound ID (both frequent my backyard) and All About Birds for researching other ID comparisons.  The Nuthatch has distinctive body shape - small body with large, usually upturned head and the Robin is larger body size with big belly.  The male Robin is more colorful with an orange chest and belly with dark grey/brown coloring elsewhere while the nuthatch has a white chest and belly with black and gray colors elsewhere.  Behaviors are different too - the nuthatch is most often seen traveling down the tree trunk while the robin hangs out in the tree branches or on the ground.  The nuthatch will visit my feeders while the robin does not.
    • Harry
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Activity 4: My favorite bird is the cedar waxwing.  It is about the size of a robin, with a smooth appearance and a crest.  It has a black mask and yellow-tipped tail feathers that give it its name (like dipped in wax).  It is brown and gray with yellow on its belly.   It is often in a flock and loves berries, often found in trees and bushes that bear fruit.  It makes a soft high pitched squeak or a squeak with trills.  It can be found in Canada during the breeding sesaon, then southern USA and Mexico in nonbreeding season.   It can be seen year round in the northwest, Midwest, and Northeast USA from coast to coast.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity 4: My favorite bird is the Northern Flicker. According to my National Geographic field guide, a call that is given year-round is a loud klee-yer. The breeding call is a long, loud series of wick-er notes. The size of the Northern Flicker is about the size of an American Robin. The tail is medium in length and spreads out moderately (to about the width of the bird’s body) in flight. The bill is long and thin and curves slightly downward. The body is moderately stout and the neck is short. The Northern Flicker’s preferred habitat is open woodlands and suburban areas. The breeding range spreads across Canada and all but the western edge of Alaska. It can be found year-round across all of the United States except Texas and the southwestern corner of the country. In winter the Northern Flicker can be found in Texas, the southern tip of California, and southwestern Arizona.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity 3: I saw a House Sparrow looking for food in my neighbor’s yard. He was pecking in the dirt in my neighbor’s flower bed. My guess is that he was looking for seeds that have been lying dormant (it was early December when I watched him). I also saw a Black-capped Chickadee looking for food in the bark of my neighbor’s tree. He used his beak to quickly peck in the bark. I think he or she was probably looking for insects. I saw a Dark-eyed Junco eating the seeds of the purple coneflower in my backyard. Normally the American Goldfinches in my neighborhood like to eat these seeds, so it was surprising to me to see the Dark-eyed Junco eating this food.
    • Brenda
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Favorite Bird: Eastern Blue Bird size/shape:  sl smaller than Robin, round shape; blue on top, orange belly with some white under tail; prefers sitting along garden edge in tall bushes, trees; spring/summer visitors to our Catoctin Mountains woodlands with established tall trees and open edges each year; Southern Canada through middle, eastern, southern USA; messy combination of chirps
    • Brenda
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Activity (3):  three birds looking for food Northern Cardinal: at suet feeder, searching for bugs in bushes E. Towhee: ground feeder under trees/bushes, foraging in leaf litter Downy woodpecker:  at suet feeder, feeding on insect on tree bark
    • Brenda
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Activity 2:  (3) birds - same colors 1. Dark Eyed Junco:  black eyes, gray on top, white belly light colored beak 2. Brown Headed Cowbird: Gray brown all over, gray beak, white next to head 3. White Breasted Nuthatch: White face, black cap, blue-gray upper body