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

    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      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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    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      bejaranoandrea
      IMG_2187Mourning Dove feeding babies, Summer 2021
    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      bejaranoandrea
      Activity 1: MOURNING DOVE: Round body, small head, long slender tail. Medium size bird with small bill. BLUE JAY: Although the size is similar to the Mourning Dove its head is medium size in relation with its body which is more slender. It has a perky crest and long tail. Longer legs than the Mourning Dove. Activity 2: MOURNING DOVE: Plain brown overall with dark spots on wings. Darker brown on wings and lighter brown in head and breast. Under the wings and tail it looks a little beige. WOOD THRUSH: Uniform brown above from head to tail. White on face, under the bill and breast. Darker brown spots from cheek down, concentrated and clearly defined on upper breast, becoming smudgier towards belly. NORTHERN MOCKING BIRD: Gray/Light brownish on head, on top of the wings, and tail. Whitish underparts. On top wings are darker with white patches on wings and tail. Activity 3: WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH: Forages up - down and sideways over tree trunks and around large branches. It starts often high in trees and move down head first. Chips away at wood to find food. Eats insects and seeds. Stores them under loose bark in trees in its territory. In winter joins chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers to forage. GREAT BLUE HERON: Usually forages alone. It stands still into shallow water or open fields stalking fish and other prey. When they see prey in the water introduce their bill fast to catch them. MOURNING DOVE: It scatters seeds on the ground and in the open. It pushes aside ground litter, but doesn't scratch at the ground. Swallows seeds and stores them in an enlargement of the esophagus called the crop. Once they've filled it they fly to a safe perch to digest the meal. Activity 4: RED-SHOULDERED HAWK: Medium size in the raptors group. Medium size head and balanced with the size of the body. The tail is rounded, medium size. Very short neck almost unnoticeable. Very short bill with hook shape. The little feathers around the eye extend to the back creating a soft border pointing to the back. They fan out the tail when they soar, and the tips of the wings point forward a little bit. Light brown / reddish in the breast with soft white brush strokes on the underparts. In the back the feathers are black with brown border in the upper side and half down are white in the border. The tail is black with white bands and the lower border is white. Flying under the wings you can see in the interior side a "V" shape of brown color with dark dots. the exterior part under the wing is white with dark bands that go all the way to the end of the tail. On top the wings are dark brown with white bands. Brown eyes. brown head with white brush strokes. BEHAVIOR: it soars over forests. It can be seen perched on tree branches or wires. Hunts small  mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. HABITAT AND RANGE: Lives in deciduous forests and swamps or suburban areas mixed with woodlands. It builds nests in a main crotch of large trees. Medium distance migrant. The ones that live North East and Northern Midwest migrate to more southerly states for the winter. Some in the East spend winter in Mexico but in the West Coast they are non-migratory. SOUNDS: Call: high pitch whistle. Loud "kee-aah" of different lengths. SOUNDS: Call: high pitch whistle. Loud "kee-aah" of different lengths.
    • Alicia
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      indigobunting2015
      Activity 1: The Magpie can be told from far away because of its rounded wings and long spoon/wedge-shaped tail. The Rose-ringed Parakeet is very aerodynamic, like an arrow, with long, pointed wings and a pointed tail. Activity 2: Three birds here that are all or mainly black are the Carrion Crow, Great Spotted Woodpecker and the Magpie. The crow is entirely black, while the Magpie is black and white patched, but with an all black head. The woodpecker is patched black and white, with white wing bars and has white on its head. Activity 3: Characteristic foraging behaviors of three local birds - the Black Redstart perches on an exposed spot and flies out to catch insects, or sometimes hovers at vegetation to catch insects or pick berries; the Nuthatch climbs along tree branches, and sometimes forages on the ground; the Great Tit is most generalist, since it forages in trees, on walls, on the ground, in climbing vegetation, and at bird feeders. Activity 4: One of my favorite birds is the Goldcrest - it's a tiny, round bird that hovers and hangs on tree branches, and prefers foraging in spruce trees, and it has a very high pitched call and song.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      suefee
      Activity 3:  this morning I saw a house sparrow and a white-breasted nuthatch at a piece of suet in my backyard.   The sparrow would fly over from a near by brach and take a few pecks and then fly back to the branch.  The nuthatch stayed of the suet cage much longer and ate upside down.   In the past I have seen mourning doves in my backyard and they mostly feed on the ground. Activity 4:  I like the blue jay.  I often hear a wide variety of calls that they make.  Some of them are a short screeching noise while others are much longer.  They have several shades of blue on their bodies, wings and tail feathers.   They also have a crest on the top of their heads.  They are aggressive, compared to other birds, when feeding at the feeder in our backyard.   They also tend to be near the tops of the trees in our backyard.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      suefee
      I saw two black, white, and red birds in my backyard and looked at a third one on Merlin.  all 3 are woodpeckers.   The downy has a red spot on the back of the neck area and wings that black on the upper part and black and white stripes on the lower part.  The red-bellied has red at the back and top of it’s head with wings that are black and white striped. The pileated has a red crest at the top of it’s head and the wings are virtually all black.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      suefee
      Activity 1:   I saw a downy woodpecker and a house sparrow in my my backyard.   The house sparrow has a horizontal oval body with a round head.  The downy woodpecker has a vertical oval body and round head.
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      btumbleson
      I identified a white-breasted nuthatch at our bird feeder using the Merlin app.  I have also seen him creeping down the tree trunk.  I identified a hairy woodpecker pecking upwards in our river birch tree using Merlin.  The Merlin app is very helpful in suggesting likely birds.  I also like using a state field guide with good photos and a limited listing, based on color.
    • Raphael
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      buyomars
      I went birding in Central Park the other morning, and we noticed multiple warblers in the bushes/trees. Some included Northern Parulas, Magnolia Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and American Redstarts (to name a few.) To the untrained and novice eye, they all looked the same, and it was very difficult to realize what each bird truly was. The only one I was able to slowly recognize were the Northern Parulas because of the pale yellow's/gray's they were showing and their black and yellow bills. Warblers are going to be a fun challenge for me to learn and master; I can't wait.
    • Pamela
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      pamela_palmer
      I went bird watching at a local lake. I spotted 5 black larger birds sitting on a log along side of the lake.using the Merlin ID app I was able to chose the birds I was seeing. How exciting and thrilling. They were the double crested Cormorants.
    • Gretel
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      gretelt
      I love watching the Northern Royal Albatross live cam - very distinctive shape these birds have, with a beak like no other! Every year around this time in Melbourne, Australia, we have peregrine falcons nest at the same spot high on a building (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un8f85yADAU). Easy to tell the difference between an albatross and a falcon if you are looking at shape. As an very fresh birder myself I find birds of prey very difficult to ID, but I am learning! They are about the size of a crow, when looking at relative size, and apparently have long primary feathers which gives it a long wing shape.
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Pandion60
      Activity 1: House Sparrow: small, round body and round head with hardly any visible neck, small but sturdy beak, medium length tail. Blue Jay: medium-sized oval-shaped body, longer but thinner beak than sparrow, visible crest on head, has a short neck. Activity 2: Northern Mockingbird: Gray/brown medium thin body, roundish head, beige under body/belly, thin medium-sized black beak, dorsal side of wings are black with wide white stripes/bars, long tail.  Song Sparrow: small round brown body with black streaks, black bib, small stout black beak, whitish underbelly, round head with white cheeks and gray crown, medium length tail. Red-winged Blackbird: sleek black body and head, pointy black beak, black wings with bright red epaulettes where yellow lower edges are lined with yellow, fan-like black tail. Activity 3: European Starling eating at feeder stays in one place picking up one large seed at a time in its beak, chews and swallows it before picking up another seed; leaves feeder carrying one seed in its beak. Northern Cardinal hangs on the feeder with small seeds, pecks at it then moves to the feeder with large seeds after the starling leaves, picks up one large seed and flies away.  Pileated Woodpecker hangs on the side of bird feeder consistently pecking deep into the feeder for seed, flies away, then comes back and repeats the same pecking behavior. Activity 4: Northern Cardinal: Large oval-shaped red body with long red tail with black blended in, pointy red tuft/crest on red head, head has mask around thick short orange beak, black beard, black blended into the wings, seen in my backyard sitting on a fence post.
    • Emily
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      esimpson2020
      Activity 4: One of my favorites is the brown headed nuthatch. I learned its sound before i ever saw one. Their habitat and range is pine forests in the southeast. Their behavior is they stay at the tops of pine trees walking all around and up and down the trunk and branches looking for food. Their sound is unique. They truly sound like a rubber ducky being squeezed then released to inflate again. Their size is small, sparrow small. If seen, the observer may notice a white neck and underbelly with a brown cap on the head and the back and wings look grey.
    • Emily
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      esimpson2020
      Activity 3: the American robin hunts for food on the ground picking through the grass and dirt in search of worms. Mallard ducks bob in the water(head down/tail up) sifting the bottom for food. the sanderling, a shorebird, runs toward the receding waves to find anything uncovered by the previous wave before another wave comes in where they proceed to run away and then repeats the cycle.
    • Emily
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      esimpson2020
      Activity 2: I live by water and many birds have the same color. Wading birds and shore birds have the same colors just often times in different areas or with with slight differences. The 3 egrets: the great, snowy and cattle are all white with either black or yellow legs and beak. The great egret is much larger then the other 2 so they aren’t too easy to confuse. They have a yellow bill with black legs and feet. The snowy and cattle egret are closer in size and can get confused. The snowy has a black beak with black legs and yellow feet, whereas the cattle egret has yellow bill with yellow legs and feet in breeding and grey to black legs in winter. Really have to notice the yellow and where it is located to correctly identify. using merlin and saying you saw an all white bird wading in the water will bring them all up as possibilities.
    • Emily
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      esimpson2020
      Activity 1: A lot of birds can be distinguished by shape alone. 2 easy backyard birds for myself are the morning dove and the northern cardinal. Their overall shapes are completely different. The dove has a small head and thinner bill. They have the appearance of almost sitting. Cardinals on the other hand have a larger head with a crest on the top and a wider more cone like bill. Their stance makes them look taller giving them a standing appearance.
    • Alanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Alanna25
      Activity 1: There are two birds that I can tell apart by their shape that is the Song Sparrow and Black-capped Chickadee. They come to my window feeder quite often. The Black-capped Chickadee has a big head and a plump body with a short and stubby bill. The Song sparrow is a bit larger than the Black-capped Chickadee but has a smaller head and has more of a rounded tail. The bird has streaks down its body. Activity 3: The Song Sparrow would peck at its food instead of hammering like the Black-capped Chickadee would do to open the sunflower seeds. The Mourning Dove would peck at the seeds laying all over the ground from the feeder up above them. The doves would also look up at times too.
    • Trina
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      LadyintheLakewood
      My Spotted Towhee...comes around several times every day, always from the southeast.  Perches and bounces around my sumac grove, works his way to the ground cover, drinks at one of my birdbaths, nibbles on peanut/suet chips that the woodpeckers have left on the ground and hops on over to the mulch area behind my veggies.  Pretty funny - I know his MO!  I'd never seen this bird in my yard before this year.  I heard his distinctive call weeks before I ever saw him.  I submitted an audio recording to iNaturalist and in short order had a couple of people tell me it was a Spotted Towhee. Also, I've had a noisy group of four small gray/white birds come marauding thru.  Thought they were blue/gray gnatcatchers - but NO, Bushtits.  Their gregarious ruckus is unmistakable! More newbies this year, are both a white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatch.  Both like my peanut/suet feeders as well as the peanuts in the mix I leave for my squirrels.  Guess I need to invest in an official peanut feeder now! Saw a red-tail hawk thermalling today.
    • Trina
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      LadyintheLakewood
      20210823_15113820210823_151154
    • Leiann
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Lucille13
      Activity 3: Today I saw a Downy Woodpecker on one tree trunk going UP the tree looking for food, and a White-breasted Nuthatch on the tree trunk next to it going DOWN looking for food. They happened to both be in the field of view as I was looking through my binoculars.  Before this lesson, I didn't realize they had different directions!
    • Wanita
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      HRHWanita
      I put out a bird feeder tray and waited a few days.... I saw the odd bird, but today WOW !  I had a couple female house finches and a male house finch (red head and breast), and dark eyed Juncos and even a red breasted Nuthatch!  I took a lousy picture with my cellphone held up to my binoculars, but it wasn't good enough to post here.  In lieu of my picture, I will post a picture of the majestic Bald Eagle that was spotted by my husband in Tofino on the West Coast of Vancouver Island on July 6th.  Enjoy!received_827443007957352
      • Gretel
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        gretelt
        Beautiful white cap!
      • Raphael
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        buyomars
        Incredible photo!!
      • Alicia
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        indigobunting2015
        Wow - what a gorgeous picture! At first I thought you were going to say the eagle showed up at your bird feeder. :-)
    • Carla
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Carla Ann
      Activity 3: I observed a crow, a woodpecker, and a smaller bird, a dark-eyed junco. We have a compost area in our backyard that's just out in the open (the bear kept knocking down our black bin!), and that's the crows favorite hunting ground. They will hop and bob along, and seemingly finickily choose what they'd like. I noticed that they either eat something on site, or will stuff as much as they could in their beak and fly off. I believe the one I was watching was a male, and was retrieving food for his young, which may have been in a nest down the hill and across the street. They also love peanuts! They will hold the peanut with their feet, and feverishly peck it open to get the prize. One after another, they go through peanuts rapidly! We have a suet feeder across our driveway, and the woodpecker (maybe a downy?) loves that! I will see them mainly on the suet, hanging out for longer stretches of time, happily munching away. The dark-eyed juncos seem to like the seeds dropped from the feeder, more than eating on the feeder itself. I'll often see them, maybe 3 or 4 gathered right below the feeder, eating. I have seen them on the feeder, too, just not as frequently as chickadees, sparrows, and cardinals. They also seem to hang out a little longer on the ground while they eat.
    • Lorin
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      birdherder
      Went to my favorite local patch (Boardman Wetlands, NCPRD) in the evening on a hot day for this one. 1. Picked a crow and a barn swallow. The crow was easy, and it was the first bird choice Merlin gave me. Some others were more interesting, such as Wood Duck and Eurasian Collared Dove, when the only color I gave was black. I used red, blue and white for the Barn Swallow and it was the second choice on the Merlin list, right below the Cliff Swallow which also worked given those parameters. 2. Picked the colors black, white and red and it gave me my birds: Downy Woodpecker, House Sparrow (although red is  bit of a stretch on that one) and House Finch. Lots of good bird choices on the list. 3. The swallows (Barn and Violet Green) were hunting for insects on the wing over the marshlands and ponds. The mallards were dabbling in the increasingly shallow and murky marsh, butts in the air, but I'm not sure exactly what they were after, even after all the birding I've done. Whatever they can get in their bills, I suppose. The Lesser Goldfinches nibbled tentatively at the buds on the trees. 4. Hard to pick a favorite bird; this is the only bird I didn't see tonight but I did see it the other day at this location: Green Heron. I spent all year chasing this bird, and got one bad look at it about 40 miles north of here earlier this year so I was thrilled to get a good long 5 minute look at it out in the open just the other day at my local patch (without my camera of course).  We are in a wet, temperate climate, just a few miles north of the 45th parallel. This was my first good, long look at it. It was smaller than I'd imagined; rather the sized of a large chicken. But what an extraordinary bird. Those greenish wings with the grey outline, the rust red neck mottled with dun stripes, the intense eye and the yellow lines on the face. Stalking secretively through the marsh, one wary eye on me at all times. I've always found this bird eerie, intense even: if there's ever a bird that reminded me that dinosaurs still roam the earth, it's this one. I'd hate to be a frog when this guy is stalking the marsh. Fascinating, beautiful, and alien. He did not vocalize.
    • Dominique
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      DominiqueDW
      Activity 4: Olive-backed sunbird: it is a small bird (smaller than a sparrow) with dark olive green back whereas the underside (belly) is bright yellow. the beak is slender and curves downwards. The male has an iridescent dark throat and upper breast (like a long bib), whereas the female is duller overall and doesn’t have that iridescent dark marking. Common garden bird in Malaysia, and it  moves fast and feeds on flower nectar.
    • Dennis
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      wager9
      Activity 1: Two swallows that bugged me in ID-ing are the barn swallow and the chimney swift. The swift is just a cigar shaped bird with wings and the swallow has the forked tail. Activity 2: Blue, black and white. Blue Jay, Tree Swallow and Tufted Titmouse. Slightly different shades of blue and patterned differently. Activity 3: I went for a short walk today and saw barn swallows at a lake. They were basically snagging insects out of the air, apparently up to 100 ft. I also saw a Northern Cardinal. He tends to hang out in lower trees and bushes and forages on seeds near the ground. Finally, Black Crested Night Heron was sitting next to fisherman at the lake and looking to steal their fish! Activity 4: Think my favorite local bird so far has been the Barred Owl. He is a large bird, bigger than a crow and obviously owl shaped. He is a brown and white bird with vertical stripes and horizontal lines on front and neck, respectively. His wings are checkered like and face has circular brown lines over white. His sound is notable 8-9 notes and he is a nocturnal animal staying often in trees in mature forests, nesting in tree cavities.
    • Armando
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      ArmAce3000
      The Phainopepla is my favorite local bird, so I'll use this as my example. For it's shape, it's crest sticks out quite tall to me, and you can see most of the individual feathers in the crest. It sits on a perch somewhat straight up or with a slight forward lean. It also has a long tail. It's color pattern is all glossy black on males with red eyes. Females are more dark gray with white edging on wing feathers. I've noted a flycatching feeding behavior with some of the specimens I saw in the field. They wait on a perch, and quickly fly out at some prey and return.
    • Yvonne
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      ydehass
      I can't seem to keep my remarks when I go back to look at other activities..  I am using the Midwestern Birds backyard guide to help me with these discussions as my bird watching is somewhat limited.  AS we all venture out over time I expect to increase the number of birds I see.  The 2 I have chosen to look at are woodpeckers.  Colors are red, black and white and of course the bills are different and the size of head.  The bill is longer on the Hairy Woodpecker and the head is somewhat  larger. The woodpecker that feeds at my bird feed is a Downy Woodpecker, it the Downey is much smaller both bill and head. The Downey's red patch is a little larger, but it is definitely smaller.
    • Jeanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      JaeTea
      One of my favorite birds is the American Kestrel. I really enjoyed learning about the differences of this raptor compared to the others.  I didnt know that there were so many other sub-species and the American Kestrel is the only one in the New World. The Kestrel is the smallest of the raptors about the size of a mourning dove! The male  and female have different markings as well; which I didnt know! The male has a small rusty coloring on the top of his head with a grey-blue band underneath but above his eye. The males also have the beautiful grey-blue color on their wing while the females do not. The males chests are white with black dots, while the female has brown dashes. These raptors hunt by hovering 35 to 65 feet over fields and they have ultra-violet sensitivity so they are able to hunt voles successfully.  I also find amazing that they do not build their own nests; they use other bird nests; I would like to know which bird nests they prefer to use!
    • Marcy
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      greenmarcy
      Activity 1-I have used the Merlin App to identify many birds near my home. One bird I identified just by its shape was the Wood Duck.  I knew it was a duck, but its crown had such a distinctive shape that as soon as I saw it on Merlin I knew that was my bird! Activity 2-3 birds with similar colors that I have identified using Merlin and my field guide are the black, grey and white 1) black Phoebe, 2) Black-throated Sparrow and 3) Dark-eyed Junco.  They are all similar in color and I had to really watch and observe and research a little to find which bird I was looking at. I have to say how surprised I am at the variety of bird I have found right in my own yard! Activity 4-How could I pick just one favorite?!  One I have really enjoyed in this new birding journey is the White Crowned Sparrow because it was one of the first small birds I became confident identifying regularly on my own and because I enjoyed watching them at my yard feeder every evening this Spring.  It is small, sparrow-sized. It is mostly brown with small white and darker brown spots on its wings.  On its crown are distinctive black and white stripes. It has a yellow beak.
    • Marcy
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      greenmarcy
      Activity 3- Yesterday I watched a flock of Cedar Waxwing birds eating Mulberries from my tree. They would fly in rather quickly and spend a few minutes foraging the berries.  I was surprised to see them swallow the whole berry straight down!  After a few minutes, they would fly off.  I would wait for a bit and then they would come back and forage again. I also watched a Scrub Jay eat the berries.  He hopped along the fence and then would hop to the tree and eat.  Sometimes he even ate the berries off the ground. Today I saw a female Nuttall's Woodpecker hang upside down to get to one of the berries!
    • gabriel
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      carmelien
      One of my favorite birds is a California quail. Identification is easy as it looks very distinct. SHAPE: The quail has a "bottom heavy" appearance with a small head and large, bulbous belly. The legs are short. The head of males has a prominent feather sticking out the front of its forehead. BEHAVIOR: They tend to forage in groups  on the ground with one member standing in an elevated position, seeming to be on the "look out." They move as a group and when slightly startled, rather than flying, they'll run into the underbrush.  They don't seem to fly unless they're really startled. Often, even then, they will fly low to the ground into the nearest bush for cover. When they run, their short, fast moving legs are almost invisible so the birds seem to hover along the ground (they have a very smooth "gait" so they don't bob up and down when running). COLOR: mainly black and brown with a little white. Deep blacks, crisp whites. Scalloped pattern on belly.
    • John
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      john1202
      Chipping Sparrow I believe this is a chipping Sparrow, based on my use of the Merlin Bird ID app.  But the picture was taken with an iPhone, from my back porch so image is not real clear.  Any ideas?
    • Penny
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      pennyJo55
      I watched the Cornell Lab Feederwatch birdcam today for the first time.  And I'm addicted!  I enjoyed observing the different ways the birds used the feeder and which foods they preferred.  Those jays definitely like the peanuts!  And thanks to Merlin I now know the difference between an American crow and a common grackle and a rusty blackbird. I'm definitely a newbie at birding!!
    • Duncan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      duncanfmcg
      Activity #3 I saw a white breasted nuthatch on our feeder always pointed down while it feeds.  The mourning dove feeds on the ground and looks up between bites.  The black capped chickadee enjoys perching on the feeder and flies away before it eats.
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Beth Wildey
      IMG_3581
    • Eleanor
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      eL2bird
      Activity 4: My favorite bird is the Bluebird. It sits up and forms a straight line from its head to its tail. It is bigger than a sparrow and smaller than a Robin. It has a blue head, back and tail. A red chest. They are in my backyard which is open and my front yard which has only one tree with open space around it.
    • Eleanor
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      eL2bird
      Activity 1: Two birds I can identify by shape are the Cardinal and a Wren. The Cardinal is long from its head to the end of its tail. It has a crest on the top of its head and its tail is long. The Wren is smaller than the Cardinal and  has a cocked tail. The Wren 's back is curved from its head to its tail and has a plump body.
    • Gabriela
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      gablimpkin
      Activity 2: three different birds that have the same color  but on different parts of their bodies. Great Crested Flycatcher,  Spot-Breasted Oriole,  Praire Warbler  all have some yellow on them. The Praire Warbler has yellow all over it's throat, chest, belly, and rump. The male has a vibrant yellow face with some black streaks. The Spot-Breasted Oriole is almost all vibrant yellow (sometimes orangish) except for its tail, wings, and throat. The Great Crested Flycatcher has a slim body with a big head. Its belly has a soft banana yellow color. It has a cute spiked hair-do.
    • Karrin
      Participant
      Chirps: 47
      klukacs
      I threw out some birdseed on my deck, downloaded the Merlin ID, and waited / watched. I was able to identify  birds (in addition to the obvious cardinal): (1) Carolina Chickadee, (2) Eastern Bluebird, (3) Eastern Phoebe, (4) House Sparrow, and (5) Carolina Wren. (If you guess that I live on the East Coast, you're right - I am located in Virginia!) I am excited to add other birds to my list. As an aside, I really enjoyed the sounds portion of this lesson. I didn't realize that I have been hearing a cardinal every morning! (I wish the Merlin ID had a way to identify birds by their sound because they are hard to see.)
      • Marcy
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        greenmarcy
        My kids and I have been having fun learning about the different sounds too.  I have a hard time hearing the difference between sounds, but one of my daughters has a talent for it (she is 11!).  I am getting better with practice. I've downloaded an app called "SongSleuth" to help us ID bird sounds. I'm still learning how to use the app, but I think it will come in handy (I have a friend who has had a lot of success with it).
      • Carla
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        Carla Ann
        There is a relatively new app called BirdNET that is a sound identification app associated with Cornell Labs. I only learned about it about a month ago, and have used it a handful of times...it works great! The only difficulty is if there are a lot close range bird sounds at once...when you record the sound, you highlight the section where that sound was, so it's tricky to just isolate and highlight the bird you're looking to ID when there's consistent chirping.
      • Elizabeth
        Bird Academy
        ecm017
        Great news! Merlin now has a Sound ID feature. Click the "Get Sound ID" button when you open Merlin, or download the latest update. You can find more information here. Currently this feature is only available for birds in the US and Canada, but more species will be added over time.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      l.l.lustbader
      I used Merlin to id a male cardinal and a house sparrow.  The process is a very simple one and very satisfying. I'll try to identify 3 birds with same colors but on different body parts tomorrow, and then get back to this response.
    • Gabriela
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      gablimpkin
      Tufted Titmouse! Just ID'd my first one with the Merlin app and the Cornell Birdcam, all from the comfort from my recliner chair. At first, I  thought it was an Eastern Bluebird (EB) because I put the wrong location on the app. While the female bluebird and the tufted titmouse (TT) share a dusky blue and orange, the TT has a crested shape. In the pictures it's also rounder than the EB but in the bird cam all the birds were puffed up as heck (winter time).
    • Chloë
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      ukchloeinusa
      Activity 1.  I can tell the Northern Cardinal by shape, because of the the crest and the long tail, also the Mourning Dove, they are so sleek. Activity 3. We have a Red Shouldered Hawk who uses our property as part of his territory.  He will sit on our fence and keep a close eye on the ground where he knows we have moles, occasionally I get to see him leap downwards with his talons out and then fly off with the poor rodent.  His patience and stillness is wonderful to watch. Activity 4.  I haven't actually managed to see this bird, but I have been identify the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, by his call, drumming rhythm and flight pattern.
    • Jeff
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      jeffsikkink
      We were recently on vacation in the Gulf Coast of Alabama and were able to see a variety of gulls - something we don’t see much in Minnesota Of course we saw the larger and very familiar Herring Gulls that even we recognize by their shape and behavior.    But then we also I saw some slightly smaller gull -like birds that had black heads and so I thought I would look them up and make an ID.     But when I got home I see that I should have looked closer - it could have been a Laughing Gull or a Franklin's Gull.    The difference in wing marking would have helped me make the distinction.    Next time I will have to look closer.
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Mbourg
      Two birds by shape: Mourning doves: Bigger than most birds in my yard, round heads, long necks, plump bodies, long tails. They remind me of Bosc pears with feathers. Red-bellied woodpecker: Round head, but shorter neck, longer body, and shorter tail than the mourning dove.  
    • Patricia
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      FlatRockBirds
      2 different birds just by shape ·        Mallard duck easy to spot as his rear center tail feathers curl upward. Very cool. ·        Wild Turkey Large bird standing 3-4 feet tall. Bare red or blue head, long neck, Wattle, large body and big feet. The males are especially recognizable when mating as they pan their beautiful tails and drop their wings in an effort to grab attention and show off.   3 different birds that have the same colors:  I picked green, white, and brown. ·        Mallard Duck -  At a glance Mallards are easy to recognize with it’s beautiful glossy green head, yellow bill, white band on neck, brown chest, and white sides. ·        Northern Shoveler  - This duck also has a green head and neck. White breast and brown flanks and belly. Their Bill is a great identifier as it is large and black verses the mallard’s yellow bill. ·        Red-Breasted Merganser  - This duck also has a green head but unlike the mallard and the northern shoveler it is also has a shaggy crest. In addition it’s bill is long and red. Their neck is white and has a brown chest with white-gray sides. 3 birds searching for food. ·        Rufous-Sided Towhee -  Towhees love to search for seeds under my shrubbery. They jump with both feet, then scratch around looking for seeds or insects. They are Robin sized with black heads, necks, and black wing. The rufous color is under their wings and sides. They have a white belly and also sport a long rounded tail boasting white outer spots. All adding up to a strikingly beautiful bird. ·        Northern Cardinal – The Cardinal’s come to my feeder. They love seeds and insects.  They have strong beaks which allow them the ability to crush a seed in their mouths and spit out the hulls. This is one of my favorite birds being mostly red with the red crest and black face. ·        The Tufted Titmouse – The Titmouse like to come to my feeder where I can get an up close look at them. They sport a gray crested head and gray body with peach colored sides and white neck and underside.   So cute they have a small bill that they pick seeds up in then smash the seed against the feeder until they get to the good stuff. Favorite Bird ·        Pileated Woodpecker -  This large crow sized bird is easily recognizable with it reaching 17-19” making it the largest of the living woodpeckers. They have striking colors with the body being mostly black with black and white stripes on the face and neck. Their most beautiful feature is the bright red crest, crown, forehead, and mustache (no mustache for the females). Pileated woodpeckers are shy, preferring to live in the deep woods where you will be more likely to hear them before you see them. They have a loud call Kuk - Kuk - Kuk - Kuk - Kuk - Kuk - Kuk – usually dropping in pitch. Since I live in a forest I am able to see them frequently.  They fly onto a tree; using their sharp claws and strong tail for balance, they proceed to circle the tree upward pecking and knocking bark off looking for insects and bees.  Pileated Woodpeckers are non-migratory so I can enjoy them year round. They do have a big range from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, South to N. California, Montana e. Nebraska e. Texas, Gulf Coast and Florida.
    • Bruce
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      bperry42
      For activity 1, I found a Snowy Egret and a Black-crowned Night Heron. Snowys are easy to recognize by their long neck and legs.  The Night Heron is more rounded and hunched with a long plume behind it.  Activity 2 were all black and white sea birds: Bufflehead (white on the back of head), Western Grebe (white on the front neck), and a Surf Scoter (white on back of neck, and between eyes).  Activity 3 : Buffleheads diving into the harbor,  Black Phoebes darting for insects, and California Towhees scavenging under the bushes. Activity 4: Say's Phoebe recognized by it's shape which is similar to the more common Black Phoebe, its salmon-colored underbelly, and its crazy acrobatics diving for insects around sunset.
    • Jana
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      jreser
      For activity one I chose Killdeer and Mourning dove. Their shapes allow you to easily tell them apart. The killdeer is tall and slender with short stocky neck and longer tail. The dove is rounder and has a longer neck with a smaller head. For activity two I chose red: Red-winged black bird (red on the shoulder), Northern Cardinal (red with black face), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (red breast) For activity three I chose: American kestrel (soaring and hovering over grassy field), Horned lark (scratching and nibbling along side of road), Northern Cardinal (visiting my bird feeder for sunflower seeds) For activity four I chose Eastern Meadow lark: stocky with short tail, long bill and legs, bright yellow underparts with black breast and and striped head, found in grassy fields and prairies, distinctive call
    • Esteban
      Participant
      Chirps: 110
      Common pottoo
      In the first activity, a birds that can be easily identified in the panama cams, are the chachalacas and the hummingbirds. In the second activity 3 birds that  have the same colors are gray, brown , and white, like the southern pochard  the ring- necked duck and the  lesser scaup In the fourth activity ( guess this ) I describe a pink bodied bird  with grey bill, larger  than a goose , with a flat beak
    • Teri
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Twickes
      Where I live on the west coast of Canada, we seem to have several species of ducks that are black and white. I have trouble identifying them unless I have a species chart with me. I've learned that noticing their specific markings, especially on their heads, is very important for identifying who I am looking at. I also find that if I take a close-up photo of the bird, I can then take my time identifying which one it is with my field guide and/or with Merlin. Now I just need to commit each species of black and white ducks to memory (Bufflehead, Barrow's Goldeneye and Common Merganser).
    • Kristen
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Krubacka
      I chose to complete Activity #3. We live in Central NY and have several frequent fliers to our feeders at this time of year.  The three birds that I have identified searching for food are a dark eyed junco, a red-tailed hawk and a red-bellied woodpecker. The juncos in our yard either sit on a perch on our feeder to eat seeds or they spend time under the feeder picking up any seeds that spilled into the snow. They have a behavior of hopping forward and back to move the snow and uncover any seeds that fell. They almost dig a little indent for themselves where they snuggle in and shield themselves from the wind and snow. The red-tailed hawk that lives in our area was perched in a barren tree yesterday for over 2 hours watching for prey to happen by. He could look over a snow-covered field from his vantage point as well as watch over our open back yard. We have yet to see him catch anything but we have found, on 2 separate occasions, an area of snow covered with feathers and blood where he had a meal. We could make out feather marks in the snow. The third feathered friend we've seen today is a robust male red-bellied woodpecker. He has striking black and white bars down his back and a brilliant red on the back of his head. He enjoys hanging from the suet and will frequent the feeder with a seed mix as well.  
    • Laurel
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      LaurelKerr
      I was not familiar with the Junko until this lesson, and spying them in my yard. With help from Merlin, I was able to identify this bird. I also have learned to identify the house finch. The section on how to use binoculars was quite instructive and helpful! I've also learned to identify the downy woodpecker and distinguish it from the hairy woodpecker. The downy woodpecker likes the suit feeder just outside my patio glass door.
      • Karrin
        Participant
        Chirps: 47
        klukacs
        I agree that the section on binoculars was interesting. (I had NO IDEA that such a thing as a diopter even existed!) Do you think you'll be getting a pair of binoculars for birdwatching? I really want to, but there are SO MANY choices!
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 28
      kathleentitus
      Activity 1: Blue Jays and Starlings are in trees outside my window, now. The jays often have a prominent crest and have a more slender overall shape with medium to long tails. The starlings have no crest and tend to have a fuller body with a short tail. Activity 2: The male Downy Woodpecker, the female & male Pileated Woodpeckers, and the female & male Red-bellied Woodpeckers all have red in varying places on their heads. The male Downy has a small red cap on the back of his head. The male and female Pileated Woodpeckers both have large prominent red crests but the male is the only one with a red malar. The male and female Red-bellied Woodpeckers both have subtle areas of red on their bellies. The male has red on his crown and nape, but the female only has red on the nape of her neck. Activity 3: The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is among my favorites. The hummingbird is so spectacular that I always feel a little as if I have been visited by an angel! My description is as follows: SIZE - tiny - the smallest of birds; SHAPE - long, thin bill, spherical body shape, long wings, relatively short tail, COLOR & PATTERN - bright red throat, black mask, green crown and bright metallic green on upper parts, white belly; BEHAVIOR - hovers to feed on flowers; solitary and aggressive toward other hummingbirds; female cares for offspring in nest; HABITAT - primarily woodland, but visits gardens often; RANGE - throughout eastern U.S.  but mainly in Florida and Mexico in the winter; SOUNDS - males chirp early in the morning; both males and females make humming sounds.
    • Loyal
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      gomlife1
      Watched house finches, white-crowned sparrows, mourning doves, and a squirrel share the bird feeder this morning. The house finches actually perched on the feeder, while the sparrows hopped on the ground pecking at seeds knocked out by the squirrel. The mourning doves sat on a fence waiting for all the other birds to leave, then pecked on the ground.
    • Jeff
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      ExtrinsicEntity
      A1: Carolina Wren compared to Black Vulture.   Size, Wing Span, Talons, Color are a few physical differences.  The vulture sours and uses air currents in its search for food, while the Carolina wren, forages around  in seemingly every nook and cranny it can find. A2: Cardinal, Red Bellied Wood Pecker, Downey Woodpecker.   All have red in their colors or markings.  The Cardinal being almost completely covered in red. While the Red Bellied Wood Pecker sports a crown of red extending into its nape.  Finally the Downey Wood Pecker having a cap of red on its head. A3: Black Vulture , soaring and searching the air currents for its meal.  The Carolina Wren searching wood piles, rock piles, under decks, steps and other tiny haunts to find a morsel of sorts. Then there is the European Starling, looking for a free hand out at the bird feeder, being a thief and stealing scratch grains from the chicken feeder. A4: American Kestrel:  Robin sized, perched on power-line overlooking two ponds and a grass/weed mixed field.  Hovering and Stooping as it attempted to capture its prey.
    • Colleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Colleen_loves_birds
      1) Two birds that I can tell apart by size or shape are the  Canada Goose and the Trumpeter Swan.  (I'm obviously a novice.) 2) Two birds that have red are the: Red-bellied Woodpecker - red cap extending down to the nape of the neck Downy Woodpecker  - just a touch of red on the back of the head; mostly black and white 2) 3 birds that were searching for food are the: Red-breasted Nuthatch; Redpolls; and 4) One of my favorite birds is the Goldfinch: Size:  small - between a sparrow and a robin Colors:  gold & black habitat:  Minnesota area where I'm from Sounds:  high pitched
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      LakeViewBirdLady
      I struggle to differentiate between downy woodpecker and hairy woodpecker, particularly because both species are very busy and move around quickly. The difference in their beaks, Hairy having a longer beak seems to make the identification easier. I double checked the range of each species, but again that is very similar.IMG_8080
      • Elizabeth
        Bird Academy
        ecm017
        Hi Nancy, Check out this link for another tip about telling males apart from behind. It's not diagnostic, but still helpful.
    • John
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      WARCO4H
      Activity 1 : The two birds I saw at the bird feeder I can tell apart by shape, White-breasted Nutchatch and Blue-Jay.  The shape of the Nuthatch of course is usually facing downward or upside down on a truck.  The Jay has a completely upright shape with a distinct crest.  The sizes of course also make them distinctly different, as the Nuthatch is sparrow sized and the Blue-Jay, Robin sized.   Activity 2 Three different species:  Black-capped chickadee, Tufted titmouse, and White-breasted nuthatch.  All three species have white, black, and gray.  However, looking specifically at black, the Nuthatch and Chickadee both have black caps, which is absent from the Titmouse, whose black is limited to just above the beak in a small circular pattern.  The black on the nuthatch is limited to a long cap, while the Black-capped chickadee has both a cap and a throat patch. Activity 3: Dark-eyed Junko, Black-capped Chickadee, and White-breasted Nuthatch.  The Nuthatch tends to stay on the tree, search for bugs or seed, but limited to on something they ca search upside down. The Junko seems to always be on the ground.  I have rarely seen them on a feeder.  Whereas the Chickadee seems to variable,  They will feed in the trees, on feeders, on the ground.  Very diverse behavior. Activity 4 - Black-capped chickadee shape and size, upright, smaller than a sparrow.  Black on cap, throat patch, with buff on sides.  Behavior- variable feeding style, but always in a group.
    • andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      astevens60
      New to this...on Thursday during a hike at Warsaw Caves, Ontario I saw a Pileated Woodpecker. Quite a big bird compared to other woodpeckers. At first I thought it was a red-headed woodpecker but then noticed only the crest was red and it was larger. Very exciting. Also I can now identify the Dark Eyed Junco which I'm sure is very common but I have never looked closely enough at birds to notice this one. And this is what happens when everything in the province is closed....new hobbies, new knowledge :)
    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      pichincha
      Yesterday, I realized the difference between fish crows and American crows, and identified the former by call, but then saw the difference in shape. Sounds can be so helpful and I want to study them more using some of the tools mentioned. Liz, Melbourne Beach, FL
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      BethAmmerman
      Hello, fellow birders! Please say where you're located in your posts! I'm in Brooklyn, NY, and have spent a lot of time in this past crazy year in the park and cemetery near me looking at birds. Just starting the Cornell course and enjoying it. The heron family are my favorite. We see great blues, black-crowned night heron, green heron, and  egrets in the summer (great blues year-round). The green heron have a unique call that sounds to me like sheet of thin metal vibrating. We also have hairy and downy woodpeckers and flickers, and the ID exercise between the hairys and downys in this lesson was extremely helpful. Even being in a big city, I see so much if I keep my eyes open. Looking forward to learning more.
    • Nicole
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Nikki511
      It's pretty miserable here today, so I turned on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's aviary live cam (their Youtube channel is queued up for me because, well, otters...).  Anyway, it was a really good opportunity to get used to my field guide and start to notice what helped me distinguish the birds, especially the shape and size of the bills, which ended up being really useful in narrowing down what I was looking for.  I also started picking up on the feeding behavior - particularly for the Avocet and the Turnstone.
    • Misty
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      arkansas007
      I started watching this live cam footage of the Paton Center in Tucson AZ when my hummingbirds left the the season.  I not only get to see species of hummingbirds that do not travel to Arkansas, but fun surprises like this red-bellied woodpecker (that I didn't know would drink nectar) show up.  I've seen wild pigs walk by the live stream.  I also forgot to turn it off one evening and walked past to see bats drinking the nectar- repeatedly).  I think I can tell the tufted titmouse by it's shape alone.  It is my most frequent feeder this fall and due to the "tuft" they are easy to spot.  I think I could also tell a Carolina Wren from it's shape.  Its size and unique longer, slender, and curved beak make it easy to spot.Red-bellied Woodpecker at Paton Center Hummingbird Feeder 12.15.2009.26.20 cw
    • Jacqueline
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      archtribe!me
      I watched one of the webcams located in Ontario Canada and found a Ruffed Grouse on the feeder.  It has a small head compared to its body size.  The bird is crow-sized and appears to have a moderately short tail and neck.  According to Merlin, it lives in forested areas and is camouflaged in browns and creams to fit into the vegetation and leaf litter found on the floor of a forest.  The bird has a small comb on its head.  The other bird I have chosen for this exercise is the Northern Cardinal, which visits my local bird feeder and grape vines.  This bird has a crest, but it is very prominent compared to that of the Ruffed Grouse.  I saw a male this morning, and of course he was brilliantly red with some gray on his wings and black on his face and throat.  Northern Cardinals have long tails, almost as long as the body, and the neck and head appear to be the same width, but are narrower than the body.  This is a Robin sized bird.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      susanfox2
      I recently discovered that I have both the red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches coming to my feeders.  (Although the red-breasted nuthatch hasn't been around since late October.)  I was able to identify them not just by color, which can be a little confusing since the white-breasted still has some red, but by the markings on their heads and eyes. I also was able to identify the female house finches by the markings on their tails and the shapes of their beaks. I learned that cardinals are finches, and I now look at beaks as one way to identify finches.  
    • Alison
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      aeroberts
      Two birds I can identify by shape now are the Hermit Thrush and the White-breasted Nuthatch. The Hermit Thrush is a frequent visitor to my birdbath, and it’s between a sparrow and Robin in size, with a round body, short neck and small head. It holds its wings in a distinctive way, so that the wing tips protrude diagonally downward below the line of the belly. It’s legs are also longer and more noticeable than a “typical” perching bird, like two thin toothpicks below its round body. Another bird that’s really easy to recognize by shape/behavior is the White-breasted nuthatch, because it tends to perch on tree trunks with its body facing down and its head and long thin beak looking out at an angle from the tree. It has a small, teardrop shaped body with a short tale and not much of a neck. You can see this distinctive profile sticking out on the side of a tree even at a distance.32002F83-D235-4B04-918D-B6975C3B2A508BF48D8A-56E5-498C-8852-77748E7DD515
    • Jacqueline
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      archtribe!me
      Owls are recognizable by their rounded heads that appear to grow out of their bodies or shoulders, with no neck in between.  The Barred Owl, which has a very distinctive call, is large and recognizable.  I was fortunate enough to go for a walk early in the morning when it was still dark.  I saw an owl shape on top of a substantial wooden sign in front of a neighbor’s house.  I realized it was not a piece of wood shaped like an owl as I passed it because it was very round and three-dimensional.  I was perhaps 6 feet away from it and my presence obviously bothered it, as it started to stand on first one foot, then the other.  It had dark eyes set into a light-colored face; I saw no ears.  I observed it for a few minutes, then continued on my walk.  When I returned to the area, the owl was gone.  I had been hearing the distinctive call of the species for a number of mornings prior to first light.  I live in a town in Central Illinois, near a very large park that contains deciduous woods and a couple of ponds. The Northern Cardinal has a distinctive crest that both males and females exhibit, a long tail, and tend to be the first ones to my feeders in the twilight of morning and the females are the last to leave late into dusk.  I know them by their sounds before I see them, as they have distinctive calls.  There are two males who have visited my yard for the last several years.  They have unusual grey markings on their heads, necks, and backs.  I think they must be from the same parents, or even a father son; the black at the throat is more of a very dark grey and the other markings are random, like there was a slight genetic glitch.  Otherwise, they seem to be like other cardinals.
    • Craig
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      CKasmer
      Well it's pretty slim-pickin's here in northern MI at this time of year. But my feeders are alive with our winter residents. The usual suspects: Black-capped chickadee, white and red-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, mourning dove, tufted titmouse, and downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers and the occasional dark-eyed junco-for now. (I should have done this lesson in the spring/summer) Activity 1: SIZE Blue jay=robin-sized, one of the few birds at this time of year that has "color". BCC=sparrow-sized, and using several calls to announce that "their human" just filled the feeders or baited the front porch railing. Activity 2: COLOR WB Nuthatch, BCC and Tufted Titmouse. All of them may not be easily identifiable by a beginning birder but the caps and size of the three, as well as the crest of the titmouse helps to tell them apart. Activity 3: FOOD FINDING The best part of birding in my opinion. Bird behavior. The BCC and Titmouse grab a seed from the feeder and take off to consume it. I've timed the chickadees and it takes them about 15-20 seconds to eat the meat out of the seed. The Titmice fly into heavy cover so I have not seen them eat. The blue jay on the other hand, "swallows" 5-6 seeds and flies off to eat them. I'm curious to know how many they can actually stuff in their gullet. They usually get spooked before they can grab more than 5. Activity 4: FAVORITE BIRD DESCRIPTION It has to be the black-capped chickadee, all year 'round. Besides eating out of my hand, they are fun to watch. There is a pecking order in "my" winter flock. A few may share a feeder before grabbing a seed and then one of the more dominant ones flies in and scares the others away. They also will judge the size if the seed with their beaks and if it isn't large enough for them, them find another until they find one worthy of eating. The nuthatches on the other hand, flick out the small seeds so they can facilitate their seed-finding process the next time they come to the feeder. Chickadees here in Gaylord, MI all look the same and there are no other species. The black cap and bib with the drab colored wings make them easy to ID. In the UP, boreal chickadees can be found but down here, it's just the BCCs. When foraging for insects, they will check every nook and cranny for over-wintering spiders and insects. That's great to watch. Since they are in their winter feeding flocks, they don't sing the "cheeeeeese burger, cheeeese burger" song, but all of those other calls to announce food is here or show their curiosity or displeasure make winter enjoyable.
      • Misty
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        arkansas007
        My tufted titmouse visitors at my feeder actually eat the feed on the feeder, they hold it with their feet and then pick it apart :-) Super fun to watch!  It's supposed to be "no waste" food so not sure what they are picking unless it's just too big for them.  Tuffy Lunch
      • Andrew
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        agobien

        @Misty Great Photo!

    • Sara
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      fenssa
      1. Two birds I can confidently tell apart by shape now are the Scrub Jay and the Stellars Jay, the latter of which has a plume and a not as big of a head as the Scrub, who's tale is also rather blunt. The color also gives them away:) 2. Three birds with the same colors in different patterns that I am getting used to are the Black-Capped chickadee, whose black head and chin are very thick, the White Breasted Nuthatch who has a black mohawk and white chin, and the Red-Breasted Nuthatch who has a white eyebrow between a larger black cap than the White-breasted, and all 3 sometimes have buff brown in their underbellies. 3. Juncos feed on the ground, as well as Mourning Doves, especially near feeders, and Nuthatches tend to feed upside down, and at feeders finches tend to feed upright and are really messy. 4. My favorite bird right now would have to be the Oregon Junco, as it was my first real ID and they are back now in my neighborhood, they have a beautiful dark head with a black eye, a pinkish bill, a chestnut colored back, and a buff belly, they would come to my feeder and flick the food on the ground then hop down to eat it, when I finally looked down I noticed many Juncos hopping around on the ground eating, hopping to and from small branches in the bushes outside, and now when I go to birding areas I see them fly up from the ground as I get closer. They make kind of a chip noise that is very regular and long rapid trills that I am starting to recognize by ear now.
    • Isabel
      Participant
      Chirps: 34
      IsabelTroyo
      I identify these birds using a field guide and Merlin, they have similar colors: black, rufous (reddish brown), gray, white, brown. But they have different color patterns. Same colors 1 Rufous naped wrenForrajendo 3 Rufous collared SparrowSame colors 3 House Sparrow Rufous Naped Wren (front of my house), Rufous Collared Sparrow (my backyard)  and House Sparrow (3 km from my home).
    • Isabel
      Participant
      Chirps: 34
      IsabelTroyo
      I can tell apart just by shape the White Winged Dove (my backyard) and the Lesson´s Motmot (my neighborhood) Identify by shape 2Identify by shape
    • EssCee
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      EssCee
      MY FAVORITE BIRD - I saw a painted bunting at one of my feeders in late April. It was the most beautiful bird I have ever seen and I simply could not believe it was just ... there! The colors were so vivid. Sadly, the bird was at the feeder for such a short time and I did not see it again during the summer. A smallish bird, about 7 inches with a vivid blue head, green back and rosy breast. I have also seen  numerous indigo buntings in the woods ... flitting among the tree branches and into/out of the bushes. They are not nearly as colorful as the painted buntings, but a treat to see nevertheless. Another favorite are the Great Horned Owls I have seen  perched on   branches while walking in the woods from winter through early spring. I first noticed one of the owls in a sycamore, and could not believe my eyes. It was just a "shape," somewhat concealed among the remaining leaves and I just happened to notice the "horns," and then the rounded shoulders as it sat on the branch. I wondered how many times I had passed near the same tree and only glanced, or perhaps just didn't look at all until one day I realized what I was seeing. During much of the winter I would see the/an  owl in the same tree, in just about the same spot ... the last time I saw the owls, there were two perched in another tree near that sycamore. One "appeared," to be larger and in my mind it was an adult and a juvenile ... perhaps preparing for the juvenile to go off on its own!
    • EssCee
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      EssCee
      Downy Woodpecker - No visible red, small and "fuzzy" looking. Hairy Woodpecker - larger and "smoother" than Downey. Has a small red patch on back/top of head. Red-headed Woodpecker - Brilliant red head, larger than Downey/about the same size as Hairy.Has distinct black and white pattern on the body.
    • Aiden
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      afwinsor
      Two birds that can be told apart by shape are Killdeer and this bird (photo attached). IMG_3266 I think it is either a Short-Billed or Long-Billed Dowitcher. These two birds are both shore birds and thus inhabit the same habitat, but they are very different sizes and different shapes, mainly in the bill. The colour that I chose was rusty red-orange. Three birds that have this are the American Robin, Chestnut-backed chickadee and varied thrush. Two birds on the search for food are the Belted Kingfisher, which swoops from a height to grab fish, and the Great Blue Heron, which stands still in the shallow water or shore and jabs it's head into the water to grab fish. These are two very different methods of functionally doing the same thing - catching a fish. Another was little shorebirds (I think Killdeer or a similar species), just pecking in the mud, presumably to find small creatures to eat. While naming a single favorite bird is hard, I would have to say that the Western Tanager. The male's jet-black wing with a clear white wing bar along with the bright red forehead is very distinctive. The female's colouration looks like more drab, greenish-yellow version of the male's. The general size is robin-sized and the shape is close to that of a robin. According to Merlin, it breeds mainly in high elevation coniferous forests, and can often be found high in the tops of trees. Also according to Merlin, it's range stretches mostly from the west coast of North America to roughly near the center. It's breeding range stretches a little bit into Nunavut, and all the way down to around the US - Mexico border, and it's winter range is mainly Central America.
      • Jacqueline
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        archtribe!me
        Killdeer are interesting birds.  I worked as an archaeologist in the Midwestern US for many years.  Surveying farmer's fields early in spring before they plowed and disced the ground, we would find what I'd been told were Killdeer nests on the ground with hungry chicks chirping, open beaks pointing upward.  The adults would make their characteristic calls away from the nests, pretending to have a broken wing, or some other problem, to lure us away from the nest.  The babies must not have been able to see because they would only react to me if I moved my shadow over them.  All of a sudden their little beaks would turn up and the mouths would open, waiting for a tasty morsel from mom or dad.
    • Nadezhda
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      NadiaGlumova
      Activity 1: I was watching birds hanging out in bushes and trees in a park nearby, and was able to identify some of them just by shape. For example, downy woodpecker (relatively small, very distinct silhouette, black and white colours) and American robin (bigger than sparrows and chickadees, relatively long neck). Activity 2: I once noticed a bird outside my window having some red or pink colour on its head/neck/chest. I considered several options trying to identify it, all based on the colour I saw. My options were house finch, purple finch and fox sparrow. All these birds have some red/pink colour on their head and chest. Eventually, I identified my bird as a house finch, because, just as the bird I was watching, it has red around its face and breast, but not all over its head (comparing to purple finch). Activity 3: First bird: I was watching a Great Blue Heron - it was standing still in water waiting for fish to pop up. Second bird: I watched several Anna’s hummingbird - flying around trees and flowers looking for nectar. Third bird: American Robin - is always jumping on the ground looking for warms and insects. Activity 4: Steller’s Jay: size - between robin and crow; shape - prominent crest on the head, long tail, rounded wings, massive bill; colour: black head, blue body, wings sparkling on the sun, white markings above the eyes; usually fly solo, very noisy, like sitting on house roofs, explore tree branches and canopy.
    • Gracen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      gefbirds
      My favorite bird, the Northern Cardinal, is identified by its red plumage in the male or auburn plumage and red crown in the female. It is larger than a sparrow but smaller than a crow. The sound is a high, clear chirp. Its main behaviors are flying and perching on trees, and I have also seen a few in a birdbath.
    • Jon
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      jekielty
      One of my favorite birds is the Magnolia Warbler. I saw multiple this past weekend while birding in Central Park. I was able to identify the Magnolia based on a few key factors. I know this was a warbler because we are in Fall migration here in the city and it is common to see them right now. The magnolias were yellow on their belly and chest with black stripes as a necklace, they hada white wing patch and wingbars of black and white, and the males had a gray crown with a black mask.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      arizonarocks
      Activity 3. I visited a wetlands area today and spotted a brown duck. Merlin indicated it might be a female Mallard or Gadwall. Then I saw it dive and stay submerged for a surprising long time, so I beleive it to be a female Redhead. I observed Lesser Goldfinch eating seeds on a plant, and Gambels Quail picking seeds off the ground.
    • Erin
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      aani8dtoo
      Activity 4- I've chosen the Belted Kingfisher, a new favorite since meeting two of them near my home recently. The excitement is still fresh in my mind.. What attracted my attention first was their call- who goes there? The sound was loud, fast, and stuttery. Fortunately, I had my binoculars with me so I watched and waited until I saw two birds flying from tree to telephone wire to transmission tower and then back again, all up and down the stream bank. I could see they were between robin and crow in size and their bill was medium-long, fairly slender and pointed. I saw that their top feathers were gray-blue in color, their bellies were white and I noticed one of them had rusty brown patches under her wings (I found out later on that only the females have this brown patch). These two were truly enjoyable to watch! I'm hoping to meet them again sometime.
    • Devin
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Devin66
      Activity 1: I want to get better at identifying birds in flight. Outside my house I see several Canada Geese flying overhead. I also saw a Great Blue Heron. I noticed the way the Canada Geese extend their necks in flight, while the Great Blue Heron pulls its neck back while in flight. I would think that would cause neck fatigue. Activity 2: The American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, and Yellow-rumped Warbler all have yellow parts on their plumage. I'm still not good at distinguishing the American from the Lesser Goldfinch. I was able to identify the Yellow-rumped Warbler more easily because of the more limited location of yellow on the bird's rump. Activity 3: I saw an American Avocet feeding in a shallow pond by probing the water with its long, thin bill. Watched a group of Mallards as they feed by going tails up in ponds. Also saw a Northern Flicker feeding in a tree by pecking the bark with its bill. Activity 4: My favorite bird, the Osprey, is dark brown above and white below. It nests near water and feeds primarily on fish by diving down feet first and plucking the fish with its talons.
    • Morna and Esmond
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      MDombach
      On the web cam for Ithaca, NY, we saw one white breasted nuthatch, 3 cardinals, 1 mourning dove, around 8 blue jays and one downy woodpecker. Watching the hummingbird web cam in West Texas, we saw many ruby breasted hummingbirds and we think we saw a black chinned hummingbird. We were using Merlin Bird ID and previous experience to identify them.
    • Kyle
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      milbrand77
      1.  I identified a house finch from shape and color.  It was tricky because so many of the sparrows and house finches look alike.  I'm wondering if molting makes a difference in identifying. 3. I noticed sparrows and chickadees coming to my birdfeeder.  They would come for some seeds, fill up, and retreat to a nearby tree. Then, they would repeat. 4. I love Carolina Chickadees.  They are smaller than sparrows.  They have a black crown/nape and black throat.  The back is gray with a whitish belly.  In PA, they seem to be at the top of their range and they go further south in the US East Coast.  Their sound is a squeaky whistle.
    • Jessica
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      jessbird22660
      Activity 1:  I identified an American Goldfinch and an American Robin just by noting shape.  The Goldfinch was much smaller than the Robin.  The Goldfinch was also more prone to be perched on my feeders whereas the Robin stayed on  the ground in search of food. Activity 2:   An American Crow, a Red-Winged Black Bird, and a Common Grackle.  I have the privilege of working as a wildlife rehabilitator and we have all three of these species in rehab currently!  The American Crow is obviously much larger than the other two species.  Red-winged Black Birds and Common Grackles are a little difficult from afar but once one sees the red wing--it is easy! Activity 3:  An American Robin as described above searching the ground for worms; several Mourning Doves also on the ground eating bird seed right underneath the feeders; and an Eastern Phoebe going after bugs in mid-air. Activity 4:  One of my favorite birds is the Carolina Wren because it is very vocal, bright, and alert.  It is a smaller bird not much larger than the finch-size and is round--almost kind of plump.  It was singing it's classic "tee-kettle--tee--kettle" song while hopping around the entrance of the garage.  It had the white patch under the beak and the very noticeable white streak over its eye.
    • marcia
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      mghgoodeye
      how do i join the discussion? did I do it? 1:  ok.  two birds of different shapes - I'm going to go v easy, because every day I see a Bald Eagle on the lake, and also a humming bird.  Their shapes are so vastly different, at each end of the spectrum!  The bald eagle is an apex predator, very large, and the wingspan casts a large shadow over the viewers!  Mine perches in a tree across the lake, and is visible to the eye.  On the other hand, my hummingbird flits so fast, and is so small, that I can't identify WHICH hummingbird it is, so i have to look at the regional guides!   2.  For birds of the same color, i will go w cormorant and crow. both black,  both large, but cormorant much larger than the crow, at least by half.  and cormorant spreads its wings on a log on the lake... where as crow tends to habitat in the trees. I'll skip three.   4.  I love the newly discovered Green Heron. No green on its body!  yet its size is  between a crow and a kestral.  it has green legs.  and it lives in the marsh, perching on fallen logs and bare branches of pine.  It usually wanders alone, even the children!  
      • Kyle
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        milbrand77
        My 6 year-old son is really wanting to see a Green Heron.  So far, only Great Blues...
    • BJORN
      Participant
      Chirps: 58
      suzukiawd13
      Activity 1 - A White Breasted Nuthatch is a bird with a distinct shape. It has a torso that is parallel to the tree surface, when it is climbing down a tree. And its' beak and head face straight up, in correlation to its' torso. A Northern Cardinal has a 'permacrest,' I would call it. Unlike a titmouse, its' 'permacrest,' is solid, and does not change in relation to its' animal instincts. I guess ? Unlike a Titmouse, or the Hooded Merganser. You would never confuse them, but the Cardinal seems, to me, to have a crest/point, that does not change. Activity 2 - 3 Birds with similar, yer different color schemes, are the : ROBIN, the TOWHEE, and the EASTERN BLUEBIRD. They have a color that envelops the upper body, and another color that encompasses the breast. The Towhee has a darker black on the back area, the Robin has a greyer back. And the Bluebird has a reddish/orange breast, and a blue upper back/body. Activity 3 - Junco, Sparrow, and Finches. Seem, to me, to ground forage together, and in similar fashion. I would also say, I may have seen a chickadee join in, but also, chickadees' do their own thing too. Not sure, but in my yard, the chickadee's join the ground foraging, and do more tree foraging too.? Some Finch types do their own thing, and some seem to join the Junco, Sparrow combination. Activity 4 - A Cormorant . I have seen them on the rocks of the water. They have a dark body, and an orange beak. They seem to be the best multi-talented bird. Diving, and swimming, and flying. And size and strength. They have the same attributes as diving waterfowl, but more strength and general animal talent. I saw one last week, and it was not just some duck. I thought it was as diverse as a diving waterfowl, but had the power of an eagle/pelican. Great display on the rocks of the reservoir. Display, drying body, sunbathing, combination.????? Cormorants' all seem to do this. I have seen 2 types. A Great Cormorant, and a ?flightess? one. It had smallish wings. Not sure. One was at a reservoir, One at the ocean beach.  
    • Debbie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Williad725
      Activity #4 - The Cardinal is my favorite bird. The bright red color of the male certainly makes it stand out, although I enjoy the brownish color of the female cardinal too. The black markings on the eye and throat area are a nice compliment to the overall coloring of the bird. I enjoy the happy short chirps and the pretty trills of the cardinals. And I always think of it as a rather quick moving bird that does not seem to stay in one place very long.
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Scijen
      Activity #1: I was at the coast this past weekend and saw cormorants and pelicans. Besides pelicans being so much larger and lighter colored, they are so much more graceful in flight with slower wing movements and frequent gliding. The cormorants necks are long, they are dark in color and beat their wings so quickly in flight. Very easy to tell the difference.
    • Meg
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      firgun.meg
      What I thought was a  Wren that comes to visit me every day and sometimes shows me his wife- I now think is a Northern Mockingbird. The Merlin  app doesn’t show wrens in my area. “My bird” that likes to meet me in the backyard, will have it’s tail sticking up in the air when on watchful alert. I have even seen him (I used to think her) dive bomb on a squirrel scurrying on an electrical wire. This bird and his wife bring me joy. The ring necked doves have been absent for months - just when I thought of building them a nest.
    • JackBird21
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      TBMachine
      Activity 1 - Look for two birds (either outside or on Bird Cams) that you can tell apart just by shape. I decided that I wanted to use Merlin to ID a Barred Owl and a Greater Yellowlegs.  As I have made more and more journeys into the field this year (my first year birding), these are two birds that I can easily ID accurately just because of their body shapes.  Merlin was easy to use too !  I went through the menu and answered the questions and the next thing I knew, Merlin offered several choices based upon my answers and sure enough the Barred Owl was there !  I took a few moments to read the description and then I played it's songs and studied its usual ranges. Then I started at the beginning again and entered the data that best describes the Greater Yellowlegs.  After answering each question, Merlin provided me with a few choices and the Greater Yellowlegs was one of them.  Pretty cool.  I often am up early and head to the shore this time of year and although I try to position myself where the wind and the sun are at my back, it is fun to note that even in silouette - the Greater Yellowlegs is a bird I can positively ID now every time based on its shape.  It's foraging style of rapid leg movements while it sweeps its bill through the water is distinctive too, and these two elements make them easier for me to ID correctly !  I took a few moments to read the description and then I played it's songs and studied its usual ranges. Merlin is a pretty cool, and very accurate tool to assist me in ID'ing birds correctly !   Activity 2: Look for three different birds that have the same color (e.g., black, white, or red), but on different parts of their bodies. The Red-winged Blackbird; the Red-bellied Woodpecker and the Northern Cardinal each have red coloring on their bodies.  Obviously, the Northern Cardinal (Male) is almost fully adorned in red !  But the Red-winged Blackbird only has red coloring on its shoulder patches !  The Red-bellied Woodpecker has red coloring on the crown of its head and it continues down on its nape !  Merlin was very helpful in accurately id'ing these 3 birds, providing me with photos of each, along with a description of each detailing where to find the red (as well as other) coloring on the body of the bird. Activity 3:  Look for three different birds that are searching for food today. What are their food-finding behaviors ? I decided to focus on Shorebirds today for activity # 3 as now (Late August) the Shorebirds are migrating through New England along the shoreline and it is interesting to watch each of their foraging behaviors.  The Snowy Egret is a graceful bird, and I found it today running in shallow water near mud flats chasing and then spearing smaller, minnow size fish.  The Great Blue Heron in contrast positions itself on shoreline edges or in the water and doesn't move at all.  It almost becomes a statue until an unsuspecting smaller fish comes by, and the Great Blue Heron will move swiftly be striking with its neck and bill to snare its food.  The Greater Yellowlegs, moves around shallow and mid-deep water with erratic movements as it swings its bill back & forth side to side to catch fish and other food ! Activity 4: Pick your favorite bird, and see if you can describe it using at least three of the bird ID strategies (size and shape, color pattern and markings, behavior, habitat and range, and sounds). One of my favorite birds has become the Alder Flycatcher.  While it is small and somewhat drab (olive green) colored bird, with black wings.  It is larger than a sparrow but smaller in size than a robin.  It has two distinctive, white wing bars on its black wings and it has a distinctive "rreeBEER' song.  It also will make a "pip" call !  The Alder's we observed nested in bushes approximately 5 feet above the ground and immediately adjacent to a pool of water.  This Spring and Summer, a close friend uncovered this pair of Alders and allowed me to observe them with him several times a week !  We watched them bring nesting materials, then we discovered their nest in the bushes, and we observed them feeding their newborn in the nest with food they would catch; and then finally we observed the newborns leaving the nest ! This was an exciting breeding season for me to watch, and that fact that Alder Flycatchers have not been confirmed breeding up here in Essex County, made this fun for me !  
    • Lou Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      hostetlerl
      Activity 1: I went to the wall of birds and voted for the barn owl, the wood duck, the brown creeper, brown thrasher, and the great blue heron.  Also Activity 1 was to id 2 bird by shape:  I know a turkey vulture by its shape high in the sky and how it soars.  I know a gold finch by it's small size.  Activity 2 three birds of the same color would be the northern cardinal, summer tanager and scarlet tanager:  the northern cardinal has a black mask and the rest of him is red, the scarlet tanager has black wings and the rest of him is red, the summer tanager is all red. Activity 3:  A barn swallow flies through the air to catch insects, a house sparrow finds food (seeds and insects) near the ground, a downy woodpecker pecks a wooden post in my back yard for insects.  Activity 4:One of my favorite birds is the cedar waxwing:  size-bigger than a sparrow smaller than a robin;shape-rounded, short tail triangular wings; color pattern and markings brownish gray with a black mask, black beak, white under tail coverts and has a crest, yellow tipped tail; behavior-small flocks; habitat and range-nests in brushy areas like old fields and stream edges. winters in open woods or suburbs where berries are plentiful;and sounds a series of call notes.  a high thin clear or slightly trilled sreeee given in chorus from flock.
    • RuthAnn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      rabsite
      Activity #1: Two birds I can tell apart by shape are the great blue herons vs. bald eagles. Activity #2:  I chose to identify birds with the color white.  While using binoculars at an estuary, I spotted a heron-like bird that was definitely not a great blue heron because it was all white.  With the help of Merlin and my field guide, I discovered it was a great egret.  I also identified a black capped chickadee and a ring billed gull.  All 3 birds have white coloring. Activity #3:  Birds at my sunflower chips feeder today include black-capped chickadee, American goldfinch, and dark-eyed junco.  Wading, fishing birds included the herons and egrets, and an osprey was hovering before diving at the estuary.
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      lockpv
      Activity 2   three birds all have bright red somewhere and are all  found locally   the eastern rosella has a right red head, speckled wings and green tail   the musk lorikeet is mostly green with a red patch on the crown and extending around the eye the rainbow lorikeet is bright purplish blue on th ehewd, red beak and chest and green tail
    • Patricia
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      patofvta
      1. I can always identify Brown Pelicans and Turkey Vultures.  I can often identify family of species with shapes like Finch, Sparrows, Seagulls, and Hummingbirds.  2.  I found three birds with black color; Black Phoebe is black with a clean white belly; Red-Winged Blackbird is black with red shoulder patches; and Brewer's Blackbird which is glossy black with purplish head and greenish sheen on the body.  3.  I went to the Harbor Ponds and found three birds searching for food;  Mallard Duck hunts with its bottom up head in the pond;  Common Loon is frequently diving for fish and travels about;  and Ruddy Ducks dive to the bottom of the pond to feed on the vegetation.  4.  This weeks favorite bird has been visiting my fountain on a regular basis throughout the day.  It is an American Goldfinch, his size and shape is a small finch, with a small head, long wings, with a short notched tail; color pattern and marking is bright yellow with a black cap, white rump, and a little edge of white around his wings and tail; flight pattern is active and acrobatic like a roller coaster; habitat is across the street from me in the neighbors back yard shrubs.
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Tanagerlover
      Activity 4.  My favorite bird is the Western Tanager. Seeing this bird really encouraged me to go further in to birdwatching. It's between the size of a Sparrow and a Robin. The male is bright yellow, with a red head and black wings. I first noticed them because of their sounds. They are quite loud and chatter to each other while up in the canopies of trees. It's their sound that brought me outside to investigate what was making all the noise!
    • Katheryne
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      KatheryneCowan
      Collage 2 Some of the birds at my feeder in Middle Tennessee.
    • Katheryne
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      KatheryneCowan
      Bird Watching Cornell Activities Lesson 2 Activity 1: Look for two birds (either outside or on Bird Cams) that you can tell apart just by shape. Try to identify them using Merlin or a field guide. Share your findings in the discussion. 1.    Northern Cardinal – medium size / long tail / short beak 2.    Carolina Wren – very small / had one on a limb in my back yard / sings very loud / beak has a curve in it   Activity 2: Look for three different birds that have the same color (e.g., black, white, or red), but on different parts of their bodies. Try to identify them using Merlin or a field guide. Share your findings in the discussion. 1.    Carolina Chickadee – Black Head / Black neck in front / beige and yellow sides / white underpart 2.    Black Capped Chickadee – Black head / short beak/ white edges on wings and tail / Black neck in front / gold, beige under wing / white underparts 3.    White Breasted Nuthatch – Black head / back of neck is black but front of neck is white. Under beak all down throat and underparts are white. Black wings have blue tips with some white. After reading further and learning the “parts” of a bird, I have rewritten my descriptions: 1.    Carolina Chickadee – Black head / black throat / beige and yellow flank / white chest and belly 2.    Black Capped Chickadee – Black head / short upper and lower bill/beak / white edges on uppertail coverts and undertail coverts / Black throat / gold/beige under wings / white belly 3.    White Breasted Nuthatch – Black head / Black nape / white throat. White from throat and through belly. Black wings layered with blue and white.   Activity 3: Look for three different birds that are searching for food today. What are their food-finding behaviors? Try to identify them using Merlin or a field guide. Share your finding in the discussion. I have a bird feeder on my patio. The American Goldfinch seem to like only one Goldfinch at a time at the feeder. I have seen them sort of peck at one another. One flies away. The Common Redpoll (male and female) get along quite well. The Wren family is very compatible. The Northern Cardinal are bigger than the American Finch and the Redpolls. The smaller birds will fly away if there is not enough room at the feeder when the Cards come in.   Activity 4: Pick your favorite bird, see if you can describe it using at least three of the bird ID strategies (size and shape, color pattern and markings, behavior, habitat and range, and sounds). Share your description in the discussion. My favorite bird is the Northern Cardinal. It is medium size; very beautiful red for the mail; goldish and some red for the female. Both male and female have a crested head. The male and female seem to have the small calls but the male is louder, I think. Also, I think they talk to each other late in the afternoon. We pretend they are talking about what they will have for dinner!
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      lockpv
      Activity 1.   Superb fairy wren and Willis wagtail are both small ground foraging birds common here.   there are obvious colour differences but the shape is also different. The fairy wren is smaller, has a rounder body and its tail tends to stand up vertical most of the time. The Willy wag Tain is slightly large, more elongated body the tail stretches out flatter compared with the fairy wren.   the colour is different of course the Willy wag tail being back and white, and the superb fairy wren either grey brown ( the female) of blue and black ( them male)  
    • Nora
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Spots12
      Activity 2 Black caped chickadee and the white breasted nuthatch. Their colors are white, black and gray.
    • Nora
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Spots12
      Activity 1 Great Egret and tufted titmouse The Titmouse is small bird they come to my bird feeder a lot. They have a tuft on there head. The Egret is big there is one in the marsh today.  
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      lockpv
      Activity 4. Favourite bird is the Grey Butcherbird , largely because of its beautiful song. It is medium size , slightly smaller than the raven .it has a grey body with whitish chest, and black on crown and face , tip of beak , wings . It perches in trees looking for prey. It can be heard especially early morning with a almost laugh like sound.
    • Claudia
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      cqtull
      1. Mocking bird and Mourning Dove: The Mocking bird is more slender, longer tail, obvious legs while the dove is rounded, with shorter legs and smallish seeming head for its body. 2.Three woodpeckers with red, black and white: Pileated, smaller spot on back of head, long skinny neck, more black than white-white around head; Red-bellied little red on head, white front and neck, thin black and white stripes on wings; Red-headed, all red head, white chest, black wings with large white splashes. They are easy to distinguish when looking at those three colors. 3. Eastern Kingbird is a large flycatcher that perches on tops of tree limbs and then quickly snatches large insects. Chimney Swift flies around swooping but always high in the air. Eastern Bluebird perches on fences, telephone wires and flies down to the grass to grab and insect. 4. I love the Swallow-tailed kite, a large bird with its striking white body outlined with black and its deeply forked tail, which it uses like a rudder on a sailboat. I rarely see it in a tree but only flying often very low and swooping to get insects or lizards. It is only in our area May through July but I love to watch it swoop by.  
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      tortorello
      Activity 1:  I have never known the difference between a sparrow and a wren. So now it is time to find out.  With the help of Merlin, I can compare photos of the two types.  Both are small brown birds, with various types of markings.  But it seems to me that the most obvious difference between the two is the beak.  The wren has a beak that is long thin and pointed like a needle. The sparrow's beak is short and thick. I know there must be other differences to distinguish them, but this one characteristic seems most obvious to me now.
      • Lou Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        hostetlerl
        Hi Mary Lou,  One other difference I have learned is that wrens raise their tail in the air.  Happy learning Lou Anne.
    • Luke
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      Lukins
      Activity 1: Two birds I have learned to tell apart by shape are the Bald Eagle and the Turkey Vulture. When soaring  Turkey Vultures hold their wings in a distinctive V shape and Bald Eagles hold their wings absolutely flat out. I can tell the difference even at a great distance or when the bird is silhouetted in the sky. Activity 2: Eastern Phoebes are gray/brown above white below with a darker head. Black-capped Chickadees have a black cap and throat bib and white cheeks. White-breasted Nuthatches have a white face with a black cap and nape. All three come up as choices for the Merlin search” sparrow sized, black, gray and white, in trees or bushes. Activity 3: Eastern Phoebes take short flights from a perch to grab insects from the air. Chipping sparrows forage on the ground for seeds and insects. Baltimore Orioles hops branch to branch combing the tree canopies for insects. Activity 4: My favorite bird for this lesson is the Carolina Wren
      • Size and Shape: sparrow sized, slightly curved bill, tail as long as body
      • Color Pattern and Markings: brown above, white below, bold white eyebrow stripe and whitish throat
      • Behavior: forages for insects in dense vegetation, wood or brush piles, and tree cavities
      • Habitat and Range: year-round resident of the eastern USA from New York south to Florida west to Kansas Northeast Mexico and the Yucatán peninsula
      • Sounds: very loud “ teakettle-teakettle-teakettle “
    • Cecilia
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      5tano11
      Activity 1: Cardinal - medium-sized, with short, thick, beak.  Cat bird - medium sized, with thin beak and long tail. Activity 2: Pileated woodpecker (red crest), robin (red breast), and red-winged blackbird (red on wings). Activity 3: Eastern bluebird - swoops over fields to catch flying bugs. Robin - pecks in the ground to find worms.  Red-tailed hawk - perches in trees at the edges of fields waiting to see small animals on the ground.
    • Kathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Great Kills Park
      Activity 4: Hard to choose, but my spark bird was the Belted Kingfisher, with its blue color head and breast band and shaggy crest and white neck. Robin-sized with the behavior of perching on a branch at a pond (or other body of water) and plunging in the water headfirst to hunt for fish. Such a beautiful hunting display and an unforgettable - rattle call....
      • Lou Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        hostetlerl
        I love the belted kingfisher's call.  It's very distinct.  Lou Anne
    • Kathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Great Kills Park
      Activity 3: Watched a common tern dive from the air for food in the harbor at my local park , while a cormorant, was on top of the water and would dive down be gone for a minute and seem to come up each time with a meal. The gull that followed the Tern, chased it until the Tern dropped it in the water...the gull gave up quick trying to find it on the waters' surface, but the Tern circled back when the gull (there were two at this point) left and picked it back up in exactly the same spot it dropped it...Terns are smart! Different fishing techniques, but the cormorant seemed to be most successful.
    • Kathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Great Kills Park
      Activity 2:Three birds that have same color on different parts of body, I used the birds that live around my house, Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, though I knew the birds, I checked them on Merlin and having the size comparison is helpful and for the Downy and Hairy, looking at beak size compared to width of head helps to confirm siting.  
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      BPzniBirding
      Activity 4: I cannot choose a favorite bird, but I will pick one of my favorites, the Northern cardinal. Body size between a sparrow and a crow, solid red coloring with black near the eyes, red crest. Forages on the ground for food.
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      BPzniBirding
      Activity 3: Three types of birds searching for food in my yard today — chickadee (feeder and carries it away), Carolina wren (suet feeder, foraging suet from underneath the feeder, occasionally the regular feeder), female finch (the regular feeder, hangs out for quite awhile — and I have noticed will even do so in the rain!). Since these are regular visitors to my yard, I have already identified them.
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      BPzniBirding
      Activity 2: From the birds I see in my yard at this time of year, I’ll pick two sets with common colors. A set of four with white, gray, and/or black coloring — chickadee, nuthatch, catbird, downy woodpecker. A set of four with primarily brown coloring — house wren, Carolina wren, female house finch, and sparrow. Out of all these birds, the only one I have not identified is the sparrow. By that I mean what type of sparrow. I showed my photos to a birding friend and she thought it was a song sparrow. Another birding friend sent me a sparrow chart but I haven’t taken the time to try and make a specific identification yet. Birding friends are some of the most wonderful resources for information, and they tend to be very generous with their knowledge!
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      BPzniBirding
      Activity 1: Two birds feeding at my feeder today, the chickadee and the nuthatch, have very similar coloring. The chickadee is smaller, but their body shape and orientation at the feeder sets them apart. The chickadee faces in toward the food port with a rounded body. The nuthatch feeds upside down. It also looks outward quite a bit at the feeder, which makes its body a crescent shape. So size and body orientation tell me at a glance who is who between these largely white, gray and black birds.E0B52A6C-3BAE-4D06-99EA-E96A69C20087E81E0C30-7161-4219-847F-11DE167CEADB
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lisabj
      Activity One.   Two birds that are easy to identify by shape are the Mourning Dove and the California Scrub Jay. The Mourning Dove has a graceful curving silhouette with its small head, long neck, larger body and long tail. The California Scrub Jay has a shape similar to an American Crow but a bit slimmer, longer tail and often have a forward leaning somewhat aggressive posture. Activity Two.   Three birds that have yellow, grey and black we have seen are the Hooded Oriole, the Lesser Goldfinch and the Black-headed Grosbeak. We only saw the Black-headed Grosbeak once but it was clearly distinguished form the Hooded Oriole by the dramatic dark stripes on the head. The Lesser Goldfinch looks similar to the female Oriole but is smaller and with a shorter beak. The male Oriole is a standout because he is such a bright yellow. Activity Three.   We watched Mourning Doves, Song Sparrows and California Quail feeding on the ground together. The Doves move in a unhurried and methodical manner. The Sparrow peck, move suddenly forward, stop, make a quick dig, peck. They are so fast. The Quail move slowly around but are more aware of keeping covered and together. There is always a guard on the fence.
    • Megan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      mhuck96
      4. My favorite bird this summer has been my teeny ruby-throated hummingbird buddy.  He seems to be becoming a little more comfortable around me and my dogs and cat.  My hummingbird feeder is located close to my kitchen window so I see him daily!  I can usually hear him coming before I see him (he sounds like a bee buzzing!).  He will occasionally make a couple "squeak" noises too.  When I try to get a slow motion video of him he typically takes off before I can have my camera ready.  I do have some spotty footage and it hardly seems that it's in slow-mo!  He looks to be small enough that I could have him sit in the the palm of my hand.  If he does get spooked by something he quickly flies off like Superman on a mission; to either the field or forest area behind my house or in the neighborhood nearby.  He doesn't come back right away, maybe 30 minutes later.  When he does come to feed, it isn't a quick visit and he's off.. He often sits and seems to guzzle down the liquid.  I've also noticed him sitting on a tree branch behind my house (while my noisy niece was splashing in a pool below). (I'm located in upstate NY)IMG_9046
    • Leigh
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      LL Birdly
      Activity 3: Birds looking for food 1) I saw two birds flying back and forth from high tree tops to lower trees. They  stayed together as they moved between locations.  By using binoculars, and being able to discern some hints of  pale yellow brown on their bellies I guessed they were cedar wax wings, which Merlin confirmed. Further reading helped to positively identify  based on their size and color and how they were perching in trees. 2) I heard and saw a woodpecker in a heavily wooded mountain setting in the Adirondacks of NY. She was small, with black and white coloring, no red on the head. There was a black eye stripe, white belly, distinct black bars on the wings.  She was pecking on the trunk of the tree, moving around and up and down the trunk, constantly in motion.  I had a hard time determining if it was a downy or hairy woodpecker. I didn't have my binoculars. Upon careful examination of photos of the beak, which seemed fairly small I'm going to guess it was a downy woodpecker. Merlin confirmed this, suggesting downy woodpecker as the most likely species. 3) We are seeing lots of grey cat birds enjoying the berries in our honey suckle bushes in the back yard.  We can hear their distinct call. They like to perch briefly on the top of the fence as they approach the branches which are filled with berries! My other  Cornell app, BirdNET,  helped me to originally identify cat birds by their distinctive song.
    • Yulia
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Koreshok
      Activity 1: Pelican, flamingo Activity 2: Vermilion Flycatcher/Saca-Tu-Real (red body, black wings and tail) Peruvian Meadowlark/Loica Peruana (black bird with red chest) Austral Negrito/Colegial Común (black bird with red/orangish back) Activity 3: Neotropic Cormorant/Yeco (diving in the ocean) Oasis Hummingbird/Picaflor del Norte (drinking nectar from flowers) Grey gull/Gaviota Garuma (digging holes in the sand with its beak on the beach each time a wave recedes) Activity 4: Rufous-Collared Sparrow/Chincol is a sparrow sized bird with a crest. Gray head with black stripes, gray beak, white rim around its eyes,  rusty colored nape, white throat and belly, black markings on each side of its throat, black spotted brown back, black stripes and white spots on brown wings, black stripes on a brown tail, long pinkish legs. It can be seen on fences, wires and bushes both in the urban and rural areas. It hops on the ground, digs soil with its beak’s sidewise movements looking for seeds and insects. It also eats flower petals.  Usually it can be seen in groups of 2-3 or more birds. It makes nests in bushes and trees. Its song is distinctive, loud and melodic. q
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      juliestieg
      Brown towhee In reply to Activity 1, yesterday, I went birding and had a hard time figuring out if the birds I was seeing were mourning doves or another kind of dove. I at least knew by the size and shape that they were definitely doves or pigeons. I find that I am using the shape of the bird to figure it out a bit more now--that's a sparrow shape or a duck shape or a tern shape. And that makes me feel like I am making progress. But it's still really difficult to identify all of the birds I see when I go out. These, for example, are *I think* California towhees, but it was really hard to tell, even after looking at multiple field guides and the Merlin app.
    • Lydia
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      lpultorak33
      Activity 1: sparrow- small size, short neck, fairly short tail cat bird- medium sized and long tail Activity 3: sparrow- hopping for seeds on ground cat bird- eating off of suet hummingbird- drinking sugar water from hummingbird feeder Activity 4: cat bird- 1. dark gray body, legs, and beak 2. darker line across eyes 3. eating from suet feeder and using tail for balancing
    • Kenton
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Kmakings133
      Tennessee Warbler I saw a Tennessee Warbler at a feeder. It was doing okay is my full experience.
    • Deb
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      AZGal01
      Activity 4: I have the good fortune to be able to watch a young male cardinal (which could be confused with a female) being taken care of by its father. Over the past several weeks since it has fledged from a nest in our neighbor’s yard, it has been taught to take a morning bath in the wet lantana from the spray of our irrigation system and after many failed attempts, successfully land on the top of our fountain for a drink. (lucky thing since it is over 100 most days now.) I am amazed by the patience of the elder cardinal who, morning after morning, showed his offspring how to take a bath and grab a drink. Junior, as we call him, is often seen begging for food and crash lands in his attempts to follow his father around our back yard. Slowly, his red feathers are starting to appear on his chest in random patches.  It will not be long before he will be brilliantly red. I hope they stick around for a while longer, they are a joy to watch!
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      markraby
      A1: Canada Goose and Trumpeter Swan. The swans have much longer necks. Both waterfowl are found in a pond nearby my house. A2: Lazuli Bunting, Indigo Bunting and Varied Bunting. Each of these birds are blue. The Lazuli Bunting has a light brown - orange breast whereas the Indigo Bunting has brown wing patches. Varied Buntings have red and purple hues. A3: Canada Geese were eating grass, a Ring-Billed Gull was scavenging garbage and an American Robin bobbed for worms. A4: My favourite bird is smaller than an American Robin. They have bright green backs and wings, purple chests, bright yellow bellies and light blue tails. Their heads can be black, red or yellow. Their beaks are off-white. They are native to northern Australia. They are chatterers with a persistent chirp. My favourite bird is... Gouldian Finch.
    • Juli
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      Juli1321
      For activity number one the two birds I identified by shape were the blue jay and the chimney swift. Even though I was familiar with these birds and able to identify them easily by shape I did try and enter them on Merlin to use it for identification. For both birds it told me there were no matches. I moved on to activity number two. For this activity I decided to focus on birds with the color red. For my first bird I chose a red-winged blackbird. I put it in Merlin and it came right up. Then I put in a Northern cardinal, and again it came right up. For my third bird I tried a downy woodpecker. When I put it in Merlin it told me there were no matches. I tried changing some of my choices like the size and then rather than viewed at my feeder, up in the tree it was in previously. Still no matches. Then I decided I would try a ruby-throated hummingbird. Onces again it gave me no matches. I then gave up on Merlin and closed it. Then after a little time had gone by I decided to try again. I opened it up and put in the statistics for the downy woodpecker and it came right up as the first choice. Then I went back to activity number one and put in both the blue jay and the chimney swift. Both came right up as the first option. For activity number three, I observed the red-winged blackbird sitting on a lotus flower at a nearby pond. He went from flower bud to flower bud picking them apart and eating parts of them. I also observed an Eastern kingbird also sitting on the lotus flowers where it perched and hunted for bugs. It would zoom out and grab a bug and then return to the same lotus flower it had been perched on. Then came the most exciting bird I observed feeding. I watched an osprey circle the pond up in the air and then suddenly  it tucked it's wings and slammed down into the water causing a large splash, and then coming out of the water with a fish in it's talons. It flew off with the fish and unfortunately flew out of view. One of my favorite birds is the Eastern Bluebird. These small, often plump appearing little birds have rounded heads and bodies and are between the size of a sparrow and a robin. The males are a brilliant blue with a rusty reddish-orange breast and a white underside. The females are like a muted version of the males with a brown head, back, and wings with a muted blue cast and washed out rusty reddish-orange breast and a white underside. These birds perch on telephone wires, fences, and branches in areas where they can look out over open fields where they hunt for their favorite foods, insects. You will often see them fly to the ground and grab a bug and then go to the same or another perch to eat their catch. They are cavity nesters that readily take nest boxes. The male feeds the female while she sits on the nest and both parents take part in rearing the chicks. When not tending to nest or young, Eastern bluebirds can often be found hanging out in small groups.
    • Ashley
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      ashley25
      Activity 4: My favourite is the Northern Cardinal. I notice the male more often than female, males are mostly red with a black face especially around the bill and their size is between sparrow and robin. I usually find them briefly at the bird feeders or on the lower branches of trees.
    • Bill
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      wdlovern
      Activity 3  Great blue heron wading and eating fish, Turkey vulture eating carrion, American goldfinch eating flower seeds.
    • Jamies
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Jamies007
      Activity 4: Hi everyone, my name is Jamies. I have been traveling back and forth from Edmonton and Calgary. I have spotted many birds. My favorite bird is the American White Pelican. This bird has a body white in color, bigger than a Canada goose, has a big long yellow beak and eye ring. I would have uploaded a photo of it if I have a powerful camera with great zooming function. I only use my smartphone to take bird photos right now. Activity 1: The two birds I can distinguish by their shapes are red-winged blackbird and ring-billed gulls. The blackbird is smaller in size, and a male is black with a red shoulder patch. The beak is triangular shaped and pointed. The ring billed gull is smaller than a goose, but larger than a crow. It has a black ring around the beak. It also has white chest and belly. Also, this gull has a yellow beak.
    • Ryan
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      rcantor
      Trying out these activities at my bird feeder 1. Steller's jay (large small bird, crest on head) vs black capped chickadee (tiny, spherical) 2. 3 birds in portland that are back American Crow - all black Red winged black bird - mostly black w red shoulders (male) Brown headed cowbird - black mostly but brown head 3. Food strat at feeder - spotted towhee, black headed junco - picks at food on ground - black capped chickadee, downy woodpecker- eat from hanging feeder
    • Janet
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Janetcaperobin
      20191117_094526 Activity 4: The Malachite Sunbird is a slim bodied, nectarivorous bird, although will eat insects, especially when feeding their young. This is a photo taken from my nectar bottle bird feeder, such an electric colourful striking bird, it is a beauty, one of my favourites. The Malachite sunbird has a long down-curved bill, enabling it to nectar feed from flowers or feeders. It seems that this bird's plumage is all one colour, metalic green, but it does have blackish green wings and its belly is an electric teal blue, this bird has a very slender long tail up to 25cm long. This sunbird is found in hilly fynbos areas, feeding off aloes and proteas. It is found in parks and gardens as well. The call is quite distinctive and often I hear the call before I see the bird, and then I start looking up to see where it is, it is a shrill tseep-tseep sound. The chicks are fed by both parents until fledging time, and the chicks will up to a certain time return to the nest to roost.
    • Jeremy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      JShodell
      A beautiful female cardinal had similar colors to the male. I found these near my friend's bird feeder. The hood of the female was the biggest difference as well as some of the color schemes. That helped me notice the difference between the male and female.
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      kshurmantine
      Activity 3, using three birds I observed yesterday (July 21, 2020) here on Nantucket:
      • Cedar Waxwing: It perched on top of a leafless tree next to a tall bush full of red berries. It would fly back and forth from the berry bush to the perch, grabbing a berry from the bush before taking it to the perch to gobble it down.
      • Snowy Egret: It stood in shallow water at low tide near where the bay transitions to a salt marsh, actively running back and forth through the shallows and aggressively poking its beak into the water to spear fish.
      • Downy Woodpecker: It scurried up and down a tree and drummed on the bark, looking for insects to munch on.
    • Tricia
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      fred daly
      Activity 1:  Australian Raven and Pied Currawong are similar in size and colouring.  The major difference in shape is that the Raven has a shaggy bunch of feathers at the front of its throat. Activity 2:  Australian Magpie, Magpie Lark and Pied Currawong are all black and white birds.  The Magpie has white on its nape, shoulder, and rump, with a band on its wing.  The Magpie Lark has a white belly and a white stripe down the side of its head as well as a band on its wing.  The Pied Currawong just has a white stripe on its wings and white underneath its tail. Activity 3: On my walk tis morning I saw a Little Black Cormorant diving for food in a small lake, an Australian Magpie sitting on the ground sing its beak to explore its surroundings looking for food, and a Red Wattlebird in a shrub looking for nectar. Activity 4: One of my favourites, and a regular visitor to my garden is the Galah.  They are parrots, larger than a crow, but smaller than a goose.  The have grey wing and back, with a pink body, neck and face.  They also have a crest, which is a paler shade of pink.  They are common throughout Australia, all year round.  Their voice is a very harsh screech (although not as harsh as the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo!)
    • Joseph
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      imahummerlover
      I went with American Goldfinch.
      • They're tiny little songbirds.
      • The male has a bunch of black-white zebra stripes on his wings.
      • The male also has a cheery little black cap on his head.
      • And, oddly enough, they like to be at the veeeeery top of tall trees, or at least on a jutting-out branch.
      (this was Activity 4)  
    • mei
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      meiwli
      This is exercise 4.  One of my favorite birds is spotted towhee, the one of the first I learned to identify .  Its size is between a sparrow and a robin.  It has rust colored flank, white belly, black head/hood, black wings with white spots, and devilish looking red eyes.  It likes to forage in the low shrub and on the ground, but will perch at a higher branch to sing.  I don't know how to describe its sound other than to say that it is a very loud and distinctive trill.  It uses both feet to scratch away leaves or dirt to find its food.  So in an area with lots of dried leaves and other debris son the ground, between its song and its foraging technique, it's easy to "hear" and ID it even without being able to spot it right away. DSC_0401
    • susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Staebell
      671EAA97-332E-4EFD-AE1A-A1D4E83F623DE68712A0-6A63-45EF-88F7-0E455ECBC53FA spotted towhee in my yard.  We’ve never had this kind of bird before.
    • Meg
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      BigYear4ML
      I downloaded Merlin and used it to identify a barred owl and a gray catbird. The catbird was trickier because I was trying to identify it by size and color, and it didn't even come up as an option. I finally had to snap a photo of it, which quickly helped me identify it.  I've never heard of a gray catbird before, so I was happy to learn something new.
    • Eric
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      shark_7
      ACTIVITY 2: The past July 14, 2020, I went to a natural reserve in Ponce, Puerto Rico because the previous day a man reports a Gull-billed Tern on eBird (rare in PR and a potential LIFER for me). Upon my arrival, I began to search for my Gull-billed Tern. Among a lot of birds, I was able to quickly identify Least Terns, Roseate Terns, Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Wilson's Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-necked Stilt, White-cheeked Pintal, and other. Two terns caught my attention as they seemed to be the Gull-billed Tern. I took photos to ID the bird but, to my surprise, these two birds proved to be juveniles of Roseate Tern and Sandwich Tern. So, I lost my possibility to get a LIFER. No Gull-billed Tern for me for now. IMG_4228IMG_4250
    • Kathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Khicks1539
      Activity 1:   I went out for a walk and saw some birds  with forked tails.  I was able to find them in Merlin  as barn swallows. ( I had never noticed them before)   I also went to the park today and  saw a larger  bird flying above with reddish tail feathers and identified it as a red tail hawk.     I had never paid much attention to the shape of birds tails, body shape, and size before, so it has been good to be more observant of these things. There were many different birds at the park, but too far away or too fast to get a good photo to put into Merlin.   I took a photo of a large black bird on the top of a tall tree.  I thought it was probably a crow, but wanted to see what Merlin said- it said it was a wood duck, which I thought was funny, as there was no water around the park.
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      rlaurance
      My favorite bird is the American Goldfinch. It is a bright yellow bird with black and white marking on its wings, white coloring on the underside of its wing, a black patch on its forehead that comes down to the top of its beak and extends up to the crown of its head. The black patch also extends horizontally to the eyes and the top of the cheeks. It is a small bird with a cheerful chipping sort of sound and it loves thistle and coneflower seeds and really seeds of all kinds. It will perch on various flowers it is so light. It's feet are a pale orange and it's beak is a slightly brighter orange. Its tail is a medium length, about half the length of its body, and the beak is short, pointed, but with a wider base- a typical finch beak. The female is less brightly colored, but is still a softer yellow, a sort of wash of color. There is a light brown coloring mixed with the pale yellow, and the female doesn't have a black head marking, and there is less black in the wing. According to Audubon, the goldfinch will also drink maple sap and eats some insects, but mostly seeds.
    • E halg.
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      elvispreslydent
      barn owl medium buff wings and back with white front black,gray speckles, night carnivore
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      ageek917
      A bird I really like- we had a Junco fly into our kitchen yesterday through an open window. He actually let my husband gently catch him to set him free outside. Small bird with a long tail. His beak is small and pointy. Dark grey color with a white belly. We are on a small island in Maine with forest and meadow habitat. I believe this bird is a seed eater. Beautiful. A Dark Eyed Junco.
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      ageek917
      I also heard an Alder Flycatcher... Cool!
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      ageek917
      2823779E-96A3-4F0C-96A3-4CE2A41AA486Activity 1- This Ring Necked Pheasant was in my yard this morning. Also observed a flying medium sized bird with a longish tail and dark color. It was either a brown headed cowbird or a starling.
    • Dory
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      DoryZinkand
      Activity 3 (Observe birds searching for food) House finches: Visiting the hanging feeders, usually in groups of two to five at a time. They are always up on the feeder, never on the ground. They usually want the seed and fruit mix, sometimes thistle, not suet cakes. Chipping sparrows: Usually on the ground, they did visit the feeder a time or two for the seed and fruit mix. On the ground they forage under the feeder and also on the paved driveway and in shallow grass and weeds. They seem to be eating both seeds and insects. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds: The hummers were at the feeders drinking sugar syrup and at the hostas and cardinal flowers, but I saw something else today that surprised me. In an azalea bush near to where I was sitting was a spider web. A hummingbird approached the web and picked three little insects out of the web! Poor spider did all the work, only to have her dinner snatched from her plate! American Robin: The robins were foraging on the ground in a shady lawn area. I saw one take something wriggly (a grub, maybe?) from the ground and then perch on a tree branch to eat it. Robin 04
    • DeAnn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      deannpype
      I’ve been using the Merlin app for about four months and it’s what ultimately lead me to this course. I’ve found the app quite helpful and fun to explore the birds, even to help learn the different songs. Great course so far!
    • Haruko
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      harukob
      Activity 2:  interesting to identify house wren and Carolina wren.  I can tell them apart if the lighting is good, but it's difficult in poor lighting.  Read the description of both birds on Merlin - it says the tail of Carolina wren is as long as the body, while the tail of house wren is shorter.  Nice tool for ID'ing!
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      rlaurance
      Activity #2- red-winged blackbird, robin, downy woodpecker, all have red markings on different parts of their body. The red-winged blackbird has a red band on its wing, the robin a red chest, and the downy woodpecker has a red cap. Activity #3- birds looking for food. Not all of these were today. In the spring after the wrens hatch there is always a time when I am keeping an eye out for crows, as they steal and eat the young. This year, a pair of robins nested in the euonymous along my back fence, and the male was continually chasing out predators, and I am afraid the crows may have gotten their first clutch at least. I never saw any fledglings. And one crow captured a baby rabbit and flew away with it. The crows are very devious, and once they know where a nest is, or for that matter a group of baby rabbits, they will be back for another meal. Last fall there were various kinds of woodpeckers all over the yard looking for insects. They even tried to get insects out of old garden stakes that were still up.  Lately there have been many goldfinches lighting on the Black-eyed Susans in my rain garden looking for seeds, and an unknown brown bird has been foraging for insects or seeds in the ground. I thought that I saw one of them fly away with a big worm in its mouth this morning, but was not sure. Previously I had thought that they were seed gatherers. I haven't been able to I.D. this bird. It is not new to the area- I have had them follow me around as I weed in the garden or even follow me around as I use the trimmer to trim the weeds. I think that they may be  juveniles, as they are very drab in their coloring, and I cannot find them in any book. I have a Rufus hummingbird that I see almost daily feeding on various flowers around the garden- Another yearly occurrence is something I refer to as a sort of sparrow party. When the seeds from the goatsbeard are ripe, the sparrows form a group around the plants and hop upwards to grab at the seedheads. They also will do this with millet. It is quite a lovely sight to see-  And of course, after I water the vegetables in the morning, the robins come out to look for worms. I may take a hike and redo this activity in an outdoor space less familiar to me. I will likely have a very different set of birds.
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      rlaurance
      Activity #1 finding birds either outside or on bird cams and distinguishing them by their shapes only. Hairy Woodpecker, Cardinal, Common Grackle, and mourning dove on the Cornell Feeder Webcam. All have very different shapes- shapes and lengths of beaks, amount of tail feathers and lengths of tails, length of necks, roundness of heads, and overall size. Hairy woodpeckers and Cardinals are rather medium sized. I also saw a hummingbird- very tiny with long bill and short tail. Mourning doves and grackles may be nearer in size, but the roundness of the dove's body and the length of its neck, which is on the longer side of medium, and the roundness of its head, not to mention the type of beak of each are all distinguishing features. The dove's head is strikingly small in comparison to its body, and quite spherical. Although grackles have a medium sized beak it is broader and more aggressively used than the dove's, which is thin and long. The grackle body is oval, their heads are prominent, with very little neck, and their tails are medium length. The cardinal has a tuft on its head and a short, pointed but wider beak. The hairy woodpecker has a longer and pointier beak, a medium body size with a short neck, and a short tail.  Also a smallish oval head.
    • David
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      dlwillcox
      I'm from Melbourne Australia, and enjoying the course so far; I hope Merlin works for Australia as it appears very useful for the beginner like me!
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      SCKattus
      We recently had our backyard bulldozed for a redo of the yard. Left standing is a large old olive tree and a couple of other trees. The olive has a bee hive in a cavity in one of the trunks. I have been seeing a couple of crows flying into the yard and tiptoeing around the base of the tree. I wonder if they like honey? They move around to the back of the tree where I lose sight of them and then I see them quickly fly away and land on a utility wire nearby. I’m curious about what they might be doing. Is it the honey, the bees, or something else they’re after? I live in Redlands, CA 80 miles east of Los Angeles. Sarah
    • Eva
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Toucanny
      Activity 4: A bird I really liked was the blue-crowned Motmot:DSCN1487 The Motmot is between the size of a sparrow and the size of a crow; it is around a foot tall. It has distinctive blue tail feathers, which end with feathers that seem almost separated from the actual tail feathers. We saw the Motmot in Carara National Park in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.
    • Shauna
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      shaunieb
      Activity 1: I often distinguish bushtits from chickadees - they flock together - by their shape. The bushtit is somewhat smaller and has a long tail for its body. Chickadees are a big stouter. Activity 2: Robins and their close relative the varied thrush have such similar colours, but in different places. Robin red breast is a good way to tell them apart. But it's hard for me not to factor in other clues like their sound and habitat. Varied thrushes are so shy - they rarely leave the forest and they have this high, reedy call which sends shivers down my spine. I love them! Activity 3: Look for three different birds that are searching for food today. Well, it's always fund to watch crows on the seaside. They'll pick up shells and drop them, to get at their innards. And you can often find an oyster catcher - not only by their bright orange beaks but by the crows congregating around them looking for a free meal. Seagulls also scavenge and use similar tactics. They'll even eat starfish. It takes them hours to swallow one and I couldn't believe it when I first spotted a seagull with starfish legs spilling out of its beak - hilarious. Towhees are adorable - you'll hear one before you see it, because they like to thrash around in leaf litter, looking for critters. Activity 4: I guess a favorite bird would be the harlequin duck. It is smaller and sleeker than a mallard - more like a wood duck in size and shape. The male's markings are so distinctive (white spots and stripes as well as the chestnut sides), which is why they're named after clowns. They nest inshore during the summer so living on the coast as I do, I only see them between October and May/June. I look forward to their return and know exactly where to find them, in a sheltered bay. They are not wimps however. If the seas are raging, they're gamely out there surfing the waves; they plough right through them. They tend to dive repeatedly, a pattern you can see from afar, as they flip their tails up before heading down. They don't make much sound - occasionally, I will hear a high-pitched squeak. That seems to be true of the ocean-going ducks overall. While it's hard to have a favorite, I adore these guys.chickadeedownload (1)download (2)
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lisabj
      My new favorite bird is the Black Phoebe. We only noticed it here recently, perched in the distance. At first it seemed to be just grey and we could not figure out what it was. After looking for a few days we determined it was sized between a sparrow and a crow, had a blacker head and white on it’s belly. The tail was narrow and also black. Merlin helped us make the positive ID. It will perch for a while then swoop down. There seem to be two. We are still watching to learn more about this bird.
    • Stephanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Jubchas
      Activity 1: Look for two birds (either outside or on Bird Cams) that you can tell apart just by shape. Try to identify them using Merlin or a field guide. Share your findings in the discussion. My two birds were a rock pigeon and a Glaucous-winged Gull, which I've always known as a seagull.  The shapes are actually soemwhat  similar between the two birds. Though the Gull is larger than the pigeon, both have large bodies and smaller heads. The gull has a long beak  that is about the same size as its head. The pigeon has a short beak, smaller than its head. The gull has long legs and the pigeon short legs. Activity 4: Pick your favorite bird, and see if you can describe it using at least three of the bird ID strategies (size and shape, color pattern and markings, behavior, habitat and range, and sounds). Share your description in the discussion.   My favorite bird at the moment is the red winged blackbird. This bird has a really lovely song that captured my attention. The bird is smaller than a crow and larger than a sparrow. It has a roundish body and no discernible neck. it has a short, stout beak. The ones I see on my daily walks are solid black with a red cap on its upper wings, trimmed with yellow.  The two I regularly see are in the same bushes every day. Each bush is growing over the water on a lake. I've only seen them flying or perched in the bushes.
    • Ken
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      tiberius37
      20180505_150518A I want to give a shout out to one of my favorites, the mourning dove.  They are just so chill!  Love to watch them strut around our deck gobbling up the millet and such that other birds drop from our hopper feeder.  Or they'll just sit on the rail taking in all the flurry of action at the feeders.  Nothing fazes them (except maybe another mourning dove that tries to grab their seed).  And then they'll go back to the woods and start cooing away.  Love their round gray medium sized bodies with the black spots (including the big round dark eyes), their big feet and stubby little legs. Btw, CLO has a neat online page called "What Bird are you Most Like" https://cornelllabpgstore.com/what-bird-are-you-most-like-all-outcomes/.   I was a great horned owl and my wife was the mourning dove, so there you go! Very much enjoying the course that my son (with two degrees from Cornell!) got me for my birthday.
      • Shauna
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        shaunieb
        Oh thank you - I love them too! Their haunting sound is beautiful - when I hear the song of a ring-collared dove (our local guy), I instantly think back to amazing times in the American southwest and the lovely mourning doves.
    • Janita
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      janladyj
      B151CB90-9ED6-4156-B363-98E36BB92A749C22512F-3543-4C93-8F3A-62ECB69386F90FAEBE34-16F4-42FA-BADD-CEB2B871636DActivity 2.  1 is a white-breasted nuthatch, 2. Catbird. 3.  Mockingbird
    • Tim
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Gilmore6080
      20200620_183657VideoCapture_20200626-200543
    • Tim
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Gilmore6080
      20200616_091117 Hello I recently noticed a lot of birds of this sort in my backyard. Before getting the bird app and joining this course, I had gone to my hardware store and picked up a bird feeder. I already have a fountain and enjoyed seeing this little guys come around. This is the only pic so far, I feed enjoy watching all of them. I am mostly seeing: Anna's hummingbird American Crow House Sparrow House Finch Pigeons And I I believe the Bushtit as well.   Thank you for your work. I am enjoying learning more about birds and their lives.   Tim
    • Marilyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      MDoyle89
      I'm pretty familiar with the birds that come to my feeder although there are fewer now that it is summer and they have lots of food options. So I really enjoyed watching the Cornell FeederWatch Cam as an alternative. Usually I find Merlin a really great help in identifying birds but it didn't seem to find one of the birds I saw today. It was about the size of a starling but shaped more like a woodpecker and having a long straight woodpecker-type of bill. It was a soft greyish/buff with some white under the chin - very non-descript coloring really but the wings lying against the back had lovely white edges on the feathers so that it showed a pattern in rows of scallops. It could have been a flicker except that it did not have the distinctive dark moon-shape on the chest. I wish I'd thought to take a screen shot. It's gone now. Any ideas from the description? It was fun to observe the differences between the Red-bellied Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker both with their black and white bodies but in different patterns and the former with his full red cap while the other has just a bright red spot at the back of the head.
    • Michele
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      MicheleTourné
      Activity #2: I chose three birds that have the same shape and colors: Black Tailed Grackle, Common Raven and Brown-headed cowbirds. I used my Merlin app to figure out the differences between them. The Brown-Headed cowbird was easy to distinguish because of the brown head. The difference between the common raven and great tailed grackle was more difficult- but the tails were different and the Grackle has light eyes. I was surprised how much I am learning to pay attention to subtle differences in birds.   Activity #3: Searching for food: I watched hummingbirds in a local preserve. I think they were Anna's hummingbirds.  They were eating from bushes- I was surprised because they're were no flowers on the bushes- maybe they were finding small insects?? Also watched mallard ducks swimming and using their lower beaks as a shovel in the water- not sure what they were eating. Also back-necked stilts wading and dipping for small fish in a pond.   The Merlin app is helpful, especially when birds look alike.
    • Phil
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Pawhite1954
      I love the Merlin app, been using it for a long time.  I have now used the photo option, and it works well. Telling the sparrows apart is always a challenge, and the combination of songs and pictures really helps.
    • Meghan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      heyhey907
      For activity 1: I've been trying to identify the difference between a lesser and greater scaup. I think we have lesser scaups in the neighborhood lagoon because they don't have a noticeable feather bump on their heads. 3: Just this morning I saw a magpie try to beak my cherry tomato and starlings pecking for (aphids) on the grass underneath the birch tree. The chickadees and nuthatches prefer the feeder.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      Liz Kranz
      My favourite bird is the red winged black bird. I am mostly surrounded by forest luckily this bird lives nearby in the open farm field which spread out behind the grassy bay, across the river we live on. Slightly smaller than a robin, mostly black with a bright red patch on their wings. They are very territorial at breeding time. I have seen them attack all sizes of bigger birds: crows, ravens, gulls, hawks and even eagles. They are fearless and fierce. If I try to get close enough to get a good picture they will attack me too!!!
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      Liz Kranz
      My birding friend came for a visit. Her binoculars always accompany her, since my home is surrounded by a variety of bird habitats: river, grassy bay, tall trees and bushes and some small open lawn area. My varied bird bird neighbours have inspired my to take this course. Usually the hairy and downy wood peckers visit the suet feeder here in the winter. DSC07593 But this summer day we noticed a different wood pecker who flitted about in the taller bare tree trunks. It seems most wood peckers are black and white with some red on their heads. How can we tell them apart? She searched with her binoculars and I hunted in my bird book. Although I know there are many hairy woodpeckers in this area all year round, this one had a black bib so we concluded it must be the yellow bellied sap sucker who is my summer visitor. But he left before I could get a picture.
    • Audrey Sue
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      audlav22
      C0D9D6CA-A6E5-418A-9C99-29B10467F104Here is a gold finch at our upcycled bird feeder we mainly get song sparrows at this feeder and I love their little stripey/specled pattern of their feathers. We also get a lot of cardinals and American robins in our back yard and the occasional common grackle. Also squires and chipmunks love the seeds that fall out of the feeder. For the bird differentiating activity from a distance the male grackle and crow have similar colours but the grackle is smaller and in the sun the male grackle’s head is iridescent with beautiful blue green colour. We have also identified a downy woodpecker in the near by forest and it has similar coloration as the hairy woodpecker. for my favourite bird in the back yard I would go with “the loud one” as my 3 year old calls him. A male cardinal with beautiful red feathers with a  rear of red feathers black markings on his face and bright orange beak that is quite short and thick looking perfect for breaking into seeds which he adores to eat at our feeders. He loves purching  on the top of trees Singing his loud distinctive song (this his name) he is occasionally seen accompanied by  a female who has a paler more orange colour and the distinctive crest.
    • Jesse
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      jesterswan
      Hey there! Up in Toronto and went to do all the activities in the Leslie Spit which is great for birding! Here's what I found! Activity 1: To distinguish shape I was able to spot Caspian Terns and  Common Terns literally beside each other, so I could determine both birds easily! The Caspian Tern was much larger. I would say twice the size of the common Tern. Same shape but different sizes. Activity 2: For this activity I saw a lot of Killdeer, American Robins and one American Widgen. Each had black, white and orangish brown colours. The Killdeer had an orange rump black neck bands and white belly and neck. The Robin has an orange chest, white eye ring and blackish head and the Wigeon had a white forehead, black rump and an orangish back maybe not quite the colour of the robin and killdeer, but i had trouble with this one. most birds have flown through al ready. Activity 3: Was able to watch a Yellow Warbler pick a spider out of a spider web and i also saw one eating a grub. I watched a Ring-billed Gull eating a fish and Mallards eating with there tails up. Also a lot of Double-Crested Cormorants diving for fish here! its a breeding ground. Activity 4: Favourite bird is the Northern Flicker. Saw two today. Just a bit bigger than a robin, but smaller than a crow. colour pattern was buff/brown with black spots and a red patch at the back of the crown. Both were hanging around the big ponds and the wet wooded areas. perched in trees.
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      aissbirdie
      although here for the birds...particularly fond of the gluttonous squirrel just laying in the seed. gluttonous squirrel at feeder
      • Audrey Sue
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        audlav22
        Beautiful variety of birds in your picture I also love the squirrel
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      aissbirdie
      Activity 1:  used the cornell feeder webcam in seersucker woods.  saw the red bellied wood pecker and i think the blue jay, but Merlin keeps giving me ducks to choose from when i put in the search criteria (and i am not choosing duck size, or even those colors).  But loving the webcam!
    • Aidan
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Vexium
      Activity 4: One of my favorites, Snowy Egret: Size & Shape: This is fairly important, especially if your sighting is through flight. At a glimpse, they can look very similar to gulls, as they don't have any extreme patterns or colorings to distinguish them at a distance. With a closer look, however, the shape is drastically different. Their folded neck makes the appearance of a large lump behind & below the head, and the wingspan is much greater proportionally, with wingspan superseding their size far more than any gull.  On the more obvious side of things, they are also larger than any gull or other seabird. Their dagger-like bill is also an easily distinguishable aspect to them. Color & Patterns: Snowy Egrets are pure white, with no patterns to be seen. While this can be seen as a bad thing to have a lack of field marks, there are few other birds to compare it to that have the same completely pure white, and all of them are drastically different in size & shape. Range: Snowy Egrets are only ever seen in the lower half of North America, and drift down to almost purely Mexico & surrounding areas in non-breeding seasons.
    • Entrapta
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      quaylequail
      Activity 2 (if a little incomplete)— lately, I’ve been in Utah enjoying the swallows and swifts from my window. I’m seeing a lot of violet green swallows and white throated swifts. Their darting around makes it hard to differentiate sometimes, but on the swift, there seems to be a band of white on the side against blotches of dark on the belly. Violet green swallows feature a much more clean break between the dark backside and the white belly.
    • Daniel
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Bird25
      Activity 1: Two species I commonly get on my feeder are Black-Capped Chickadees and White-Breasted Nuthatches. They have similar colorings, but you can tell them apart because the Nuthatches are larger and more slender, and also behave differently. Chickadees tend to perch, while Nuthatches will climb up and down the side of trees or our suet feeder. Activity 2: Downy Woodpeckers, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, and Pileated Woodpeckers all have Black, White, and Red, but they can easily be told apart. First because of the size (Downy is smaller then Red-Bellied is smaller than Pileated), and the Pileated has a crest while the others do not. However, the color patterns are also different. Downys have only a small patch of red, white on the stomach and on spots on the wings and a white stripe on the back, and the rest is black. Red-Bellieds have red across the entire head and a ladder-like pattern of black and white on the back, also white on the stomach. Finally, Pileated have a red crest and are mostly black otherwise save for white patches on the neck and head. Activity 3: A Downy Woodpecker visited my suit feeder. Woodpeckers in general seem to really like the suet, whereas I rarely see them on the seeds. A Tufted Titmouse is now visiting my sunflower seed feeder, and they rarely visit the suet. However, we also get White-Breasted Nuthatches, which like both the seeds and the suet. Other birds, particularly Chipping Sparrows and Mourning Doves like the seeds, but tend to pick seeds from the ground that were dropped by other birds. As for birds that are looking for food on their own, we get American Robins and recently a recurring singular Wild Turkey that forage through the grass looking for worms and other insects. Activity 4: I can't pick a favorite bird, I love them all. But one bird I've been seeing alot lately is a House Wren, which has made a nest in our next box and spends alot of time on a tree outside my window. House Wrens are small bundles of energy, mostly buff colored but with some white on the stomach. They have short, upright tails and short beaks. This particular one likes to sing and is often close enough that I can see its mouth open and its throat moving.
    • Daniel
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Bird25
      I wrote a whole thing for this but then I lost it all because the site logged me out and it took like 15 minutes to write fix this site please.
      • Daniel
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        Bird25
        Ok I finally retrieved it by hitting the back arrow enough, but this is still a major issue that could happen to other people, so please fix.
    • Sheilah
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      dolslose
      IMG_4209
    • Louisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      lulu1
      Activity 4:  Earlier today I went birding at Centennial Marsh State Wildlife Management Area in Idaho.  While driving slowly along one of the perimeter roads, I was scanning the nearby vegetation.  I had moved from driving along a distinctly marshy area with patches of open water to a drier area that was slightly higher when I saw a tallish brown shape that did not look quite right for vegetation.  Looking thru my binoculars I saw an owl in the middle of the day.  The owl was rather slim and long appearing and dark mottled brown with yellow eyes framed in white feathers and two very short ear tufts.  It was one of 3 possible large or largish owls that reside in southern Idaho - great horned owl, long-eared owl, and short-eared owl.  This owl was slim so the shape eliminated great horned owl, as did it being active during the day and in short vegetation (shrub-steppe).  Long-eared owls are also slim but have long ear tufts and tend to roost in tall dense shrubs during the day.  I’m not aware of long-eared owls hunting during the day but knew short-eared owls do when the food demands of their owlets gets high enough.  Mid-June is about the right time of year for that at the elevation I was at.  My owl was indeed a short-eared owl.
      • Nan
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        Nani110
        Great description of your thinking process.  I found it helpful.
    • clara
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      clarys_clgd
      Actividad 1 Las aves que encontre y pude distinguir por su forma fueron: Carpintero Andino (Colaptes Rupicola), y el Vencejo Andino (Aeronautes Andecolus), Actividad 2 Los tres pájaros que encontré que tiene el mismo color en diferentes partes del cuerpo son: Jilguero Vientre Amarillo (Spinus xanthogastrus) que tiene Capucha oscura, pecho amarillo, y alas con parches amarillos Jilguero (Spinus Atratus) que tiene pecho y capucha oscuro, alas oscuras con parches amarillos, cola interna amarilla Jilguero Lomo amarillo (Spinus Uropygialis)  que tiene capucha oscura, pecho amarillo alas oscuras con amarillo Actividad 3 Los tres pájaros que encontré buscando comida son: Pichitanka (Zonotrichia Capensis), que busca su comida en el suelo ya que como granos Picaflor Verde (Colibri Curuscans), que busca su comida en las flores tubulares ya que se alimenta del néctar de las mismas Vencejo Andino (Aeronautes Andecolus) que busca su comida volando ya que se alimenta de pequeños insectos. Actividad 4 Picaflor Cometa (Sappho Sparganura), Tamaño y forma:  de tamaño pequeño, tiene la cola mucho mas grande que los demás picaflores y el pico es más pequeño que el del Picaflor Verde (Colibri Curuscans) Patrón de color y marcas: Mascara oscura, pecho verde, cola larga con color tornazolado naranja, rojo y puntas de las plumas de la cola oscura Comportamiento:  Volando cerca a flores tubulares y posándose en los arboles cercanos a estas flores para cuidar su territorio, generalmente percha y se alimenta solo. Se alimenta del néctar de las flores, aleteo rápido.
    • Debi
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      debilb
      Activity 1:  Definitely a Robin has a different size shape from a Blue Jay. Activity 2:  I saw three different woodpeckers at my feeder-the red headed woodpecker, the red bellied woodpecker and the downy woodpecker.  And I thought a woodpecker was a woodpecker! Activity 3: Most of the birds I am watching--cardinals, finches, sparrows, blue jays, woodpeckers, wrens and thrashers-- are eating from my feeder--eating me out of house and home!  But robins definitely like the worms in the yard and the little humming bird is enjoying my hummingbird feeder. Activity 4:  I think my favorite bird is the robin because I had the opportunity to watch the couple build their next on our gutter downspouts, take turns caring for their nest and feeding their babies--they definitely were a team!  Unfortunately something got to the nest before the babies could fly. :-( But I've learned they will rebuild their nests and try again!  My second favorite is the cardinal because it is so beautiful--red is my favorite color--and they have a nice sound.
    • Hannah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      hvelde
      Activity 1: On the Cornell FeederWatch Cam, I identified a Red-winged Blackbird and a Mourning Dove, which are easily distinguishable because of their different shapes. The Red-winged Blackbird has a short neck, a slender body, short legs, and a medium beak that is straight. The Mourning Dove has a short neck, short legs, and a medium beak; however, it has a rather chunky body and it’s beak curves slightly downward. Activity 2: Three birds I have seen that have black as a part of their colour pattern are the Black-capped Chickadee, the Bluejay, and the Northern Cardinal (all males). The Black-capped Chickadee has a black crown, a black throat, a black beak, and some black in the primary feathers of the wings. The Bluejay has a black beak, a black necklace, a black eyeline, and black wing-bars. The Northern Cardinal has a black circle surrounding its beak and extending to the throat slightly. It also has a hint of black in its wing feathers. Activity 3: On the Cornell FeederWatch Cam, I observed three different birds eating from the feeders. The Common Grackle stood on the edge of the feeding trough, horizontally, and swiftly dipped its beak down to retrieve some seed, repeatedly. The Red-bellied Woodpecker also ate from the trough. It kept its beak close to the surface of the trough, pecking at the food with its beak several times before lifting its head. The Mourning Dove sat in the trough and rapidly swivelled its head up and down as it ate. Activity 4: My favourite bird lately is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I am trying to attract one to my backyard with a hummingbird feeder I bought, but so far I have had no such luck. It is a very small bird; smaller than a finch. It has a long, thin beak that is about twice the width of its head. Its legs are so short that they can hardly be seen. It has a ruby red throat, a green cap, and a white chest. According to my Birds of Ontario field guide, it is present in my area as a breeder from May to August and as a migrant from mid-August to mid-September.
    • Mary G
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      MGFerrante
      Activity #1.  I don't have a comparison by shape, but I've been noticing shapes of Phoebes and Sparrows in my yard.  I watch the Phoebe's tail for "wagging " when it lights, which it often does on the lamp post or a branch.  The round little Sparrow hops around on my driveway.  It's either a Song or Chipping, not sure which.  I can't see it all that well. Activity #2.  I compared the Sparrows and the House Wren, both mostly brown.  I've only seen the wren once, though I've heard it quite a few times.  The Sparrows have black and white stripes on their heads and wings, and I noticed a bright almost orange cap on the head (chipping?).  The wren is brown all over. Activity #3.  Within the last few days I've seen the Robin walking around on the driveway pecking at this and that.  The Sparrow hops and does quick pecks.  the Phoebe flies around and I don't know how it gets it's food.  It's a flycatcher, so there you go. Activity #4.  Today my favorite is the Red Eyed Vireo.  I was hiking, and I kept hearing its cheery song above me.  I've been hearing it a lot on my hikes.  I finally spotted one without binoculars.  It was 20-30 feet up in the understory of hardwood trees, occasionally hopping from branch to branch.  It's a bit smaller than a Robin.  It seemed cheerful, and it moved around quite a bit.   It was white below with some yellow on the sides of the belly.  It had a grey cap and a black eye stripe bisecting white stripes.  The back is yellow mixed with gray.   (I didn't see all that without binoculars!). Red-eyed vireos winter in South America, and spend the breeding season much of th eastern US and some of Canada.
    • Heather
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      HeatherElizabeth
      I have found paying attention to shape to be helpful to distinguish between white-breasted nuthatches and mountain chickadees in my backyard. While there are definitely distinct differences in markings and behavior, the coloring is similar enough and the birds in my backyard seem to be moving all the time making it harder to catch those differences! One thing I noticed that was really helpful to distinguish between them quickly, even in movement, was the shape of their bill. The chickadees have a much smaller bill than the nuthatches. It has really helped with split second identification!
    • Margaret
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      pegkahn
      4. A favorite bird, perhaps partly because we can see it easily in this season in southeast Michigan, is the Tree Swallow. It has an extensive summer range in North America but migrates south for the winter. The Tree Swallow seems to be mainly an aerial forager, and it flies (with a glide) over meadows and fields to catch insects. It has very distinctive color markings, including a blue iridescent back and a clean white front and a black mask around its eyes. This bird (a male) is atop a nesting box at about 9 am, June 7, at Matthaei Botanical Gardens (University of Michigan).     treeswallow6.7.2
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      jennferguson76
      Activity 1: We've had a lot of European Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Grackles around here. From a distance they just look black, so I go by the overall shape, specifically tail length compared to body. Activity 3: Recently I've seen the feeding habits of American Robins, Northern Flickers and White-breasted Nuthatches. The first two were ground feeders, while the nuthatch did its feeding on a tree. As an aside, several weeks ago I saw a Belted Kingfisher at a nearby pond doing it's thing. Not the quietest at the buffet line. Activity 4: White-Breasted Nuthatch: Small (and I always find a bit rotund), distinctive band across the head (not quite a full cap), and a distinctive tree climbing behavior.
      • Margaret
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        pegkahn
        I have been wrestling with the differences among these dark/black birds, too, especially the distinction between the Starling and Grackle.  From what I can see a Grackle has a tapered gray bill, fairly long legs, and a long black tail, with a bright yellow eye. Its feathers are dark blue in the neck and head region, and its feathers are iridescent—blue and bronzy. The European Starling has a long yellow bill, speckled brown feathers, a brown tail shorter than that of a grackle, reddish legs shorter than that of a grackle, and a duller eye. (Male) Red-winged Blackbirds, very common here in southeast Michigan near bodies of water, are black, with red shoulder patches with a yellow line and a medium-sized grayish bill. I think I found a Grackle and a Starling at the Sapsucker Woods feeder. Corrections welcome. gracklestarlingedited
    • Sophia
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      sophiamathews
      9EA9F110-A785-4AEF-8ECA-13424A7AEDDB_1_105_cC2CC6579-FF2D-4963-856C-C3432FE6F587_1_105_cI looked around my house and was able to take photos of and ID a Northern Cardinal and American Robin.  I used my camera because I don't have binoculars yet––and I learned how much of a challenge bird photography is!  I'd love to get better at it.  I used the Merlin app to identify them by color (both have red and black) but I think the app distinguished them based on behavior.  The robin was on the ground while the cardinal was on a branch.
    • Terri
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      watcher4668
      i used Merlin yesterday to identify a bird i had never seen in my yard before.  It was a ground feeder , black and gray and i identified it as a gray catbird.  exciting
    • Madge
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      MadgeN
      I googled live bird cams in my area. Who knew??  The live eagle cam captured an anhinga (water fowl) in the water below the nest.
    • Marcia
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      m.kaye
      Activity #1: I'm not very good  identifying birds by shape, but even I can tell a Northern Cardinal from a Robin based on shape! Activity #2: For the colour activity, I chose three birds that we see in our backyard that each have some red on them. Male Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers have red on their forehead and throat. Female Northern Cardinals have red on their beak, crest, wings and tail. And male Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks have red on their throat and neck. fullsizeoutput_23deP1030217fullsizeoutput_2524 Activity #3: Today I watched a Nuthatch feed by going headfirst down a trunk. A Goldfinch ate seed from our feeder. And a Robin pulled a worm from the ground. Activity #4: I took a walk this morning through a large town-owned field that has nesting boxes for Tree Swallows. These beautiful birds are about the size of a sparrow. They have stunning iridescent blue backs, while their underparts are white and their wings look black. They are very fast and agile flyers, swooping to feed on flying insects. To me, their song is a very high-pitched chirp that reminds of a piccolo.
    • Luis
      Participant
      Chirps: 29
      Luis7910
      Activity 4: Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) - Smaller than a Mallard but larger than a Bufflehead - Diving duck -  Both male and female have a small white dot well behind the eye as well as a large white spot that extends down were the eye is until the base of the bill - Males are mottled with orange, blue, and white -Females are mainly a dull light brown IMG_9454IMG_9319
    • Theresa
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      tet1512
      Activity 1: birds I can ID by their shape.  Mourning doves have a distinctive shape especially when compared to the many finches and sparrows commonly seen in my neighborhood; their long tails and small heads are their most recognizable features.  On the other hand, a robin is much more proportionate; its tail is neither long nor stumpy, and its head looks like the right size for its body. Activity 4: describing a favorite bird using mulitple strategies.  A red-winged blackbird looks like what it's called: solid glossy black overall, with a squarish patch of red on its "shoulder" or the top of its wing.  I always think of it as an epaulet.  :)  It's around the size of a robin.  I see and hear them in areas where different habitats come together, for instance on the edges of a field or meadow that's bordered by trees, or in the tall grass in and around ponds or wetlands.  The males are often out and about while the females stay undercover.  It took me forever to figure out that the small brown birds darting through the high grass around the pond in a favorite local park are not sparrows but female redwinged blackbirds.  Their song is somehow both shrill and guttural, and I've seen it phoneticized in field guides as "kon-ka-REE," but recently I realized it also sounds uncomfortably like "quart-an-TINE," lol.  My favorite thing about their song is when I can hear multiple birds calling and responding to one another, for instance when I'm walking down a long straight path and I can hear them "telegraphing" to one another up and down the path.
    • Terry
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      drtawpsyd
      Activity 4.  My favorite bird.  Probably the cardinal!  Size smaller than robin but larger than a sparrow, red and black markings, wonderful whistle calls, to name one, and suburban habitat..
    • Terry
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      drtawpsyd
      .  Activity #1.  Telling two birds apart by shape. Woodpecker... downy vs hairy... a brief visit at the feeder today included a slightly larger woodpecker... Definitely a male hairy. His size was considerably smaller than a downy but nowhere near pileated or red bellied.  We’ve had downys off and on, but this gentleman was larger.   activity 2. Food finding behaviors. Watched the male goldfinches vie for a rug on the feeder.  So interesting to watch them push each other away.  A couple of females behaved similarly...waiting on top of the feeder pole for one to leave the wrung hummingbird passed by the nectar feeder for a go at a pink and red potted plant!   crows... are there grubs in the lawn?
    • Laurie
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      llanodelrio
      For activity #1, I decided on the California Scrub Jay and the Black Phoebe.  I could tell them apart because the Scrub Jay had a long body and a thick, long bill, and the Phoebe had a small body and short bill.  For activity #2 I chose the House Finch, Acorn Woodpecker, and the Spotted Towhee.  The House Finch has red on its breast, and sometimes on its head.  The Acorn Woodpecker has red on its cap, and the Spotted Towhee has red on its wings.  The Spotted Towhee's coloring is more orange than red, but I will still include it in my list.  For activity #3 I chose the Oak Titmouse, the Mourning Dove, and the Common Raven.  The Oak Titmouse will peck at wood with an uneven tapping, the Mourning Dove will peck at the ground for food, and the Common Raven will hunt for food.  For activity #4 I chose the Oak Titmouse.  The Oak Titmouse pecks for food on tree branches, is small and has a brownish-gray crest, and is brown, gray, and white.  These tools have helped me so much on my birding journey and I notice them more and more every time I see a bird.  Thank you for this course!
    • Catherine
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      cvanderplaats
      The Joy of birdwatching!! I just connected with the Sapsucker Woods birdcam for the first time, and have immediately become addicted... :) When we see birds, it is usually flying overhead, or flitting through tree branches, or landing on the ground and taking off again. Seeing groups of them do this, and repeatedly.... is wonderful and very helpful in identification and behaviour observation. So I also did it.... repeatedly.... about five minutes per observation. And most of the birds were the same every time, but very varied: starlings, grackles, red-winged blacbirds, a blue jay, a mourning dove and various types of woodpeckers. I thought my biggest identification difficulties were with sparrows (I'd just about given up...) but now I realize how many similar but different types of woodpeckers there are. I think I saw three types: a hairy(?) and-or a downy(?), and possibly a red-bellied.  The other thing that surprised me was how civilly they got on together when there were many different species, and how argumentative they became when it was just the blackbirds. I wonder whether that is because they are aware that they are similar species (are they?) and see each other as rivals, but know that a mourning dove or a woodpecker is not. I took a screen shot and will try to append it... Now back to the webcam live.... :) Screenshot (139)
    • Mara
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      maracanlas
      American Robins have a pretty distinctive silhouette, as do Northern Cardinals. Two very similar birds I see often in my yard are European Starlings and Grackles. Both are medium-sized birds with irridescent black feathers. However, Starlings have yellow beaks and legs, while Grackles are dark all over.
      • Theresa
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        tet1512
        Took me forever to be able to tell starlings and grackles apart!  I usually look at their tails: STarlings have STumpy tails and GRackles have GRand tails.  :)
    • lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      ls_coyne
      Since it is pouring out my feeders and yard are really quiet, so I checked out the BirdCams. Ironically the feeder cam at Cornell was empty also despite their diverse food offerings, but it looked a bit stormy there too. So I went to a hummingbird feeder in west texas that was swarming with what appeared to be all one species hummingbirds. Using Merlin Bird ID the black-chinned hummingbird came right to the top of the list and was obviously the correct match. MAGIC! If anyone likes to offer advise, I could use help with some frustrating experiences trying to ID bird. For instance, yesterday in urban Seattle I got a long, clear look at a bird and heard it sing its song repeatedly but could not for the life of me find a match using Merlin or any of my 5 field guides. Granted it was a really nondescript bird: a bit smaller than a sparrow, fine-bodied like a warbler with a straight, medium-length tail and a fine bill. No wing bars or other distinctive markings other than a faint-line above the eye. Was perched in a dead tree about 20' up singing a 4-note, minor-key song with rhythmic spaces between. The bird that physically matched most closely was a warbling vireo, but the call was not even remotely close to that recorded for the WV. I've had these experiences a few times and get a bit frustrated. Mind you I could really use a better pair of binoculars and maybe a camera other that my iPhone 5 :  )
    • Sheilah
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      dolslose
      Activity 1: I'm pretty sure we're getting both downy and hairy woodpeckers at our suet feeder. I'm basing this on size (hairy woodpeckers are larger than downys,) and the shape of the beak (hairy woodpeckers have a beak about as long as their heads, while downys have a shorter beak.) My Merline bird ID app helped me with this, although it says hairy woodpeckers are uncommon in my area (a semi-rural setting in Northern Virginia.) Downys are common here (habitat). I've also noticed some interesting behavior with the downy woodpeckers. A male and female have been coming to the suet feeder, and the male feeds the female. Does anyone know why they would do this?
    • Heather
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      hharbord
      Activity #1  I looked at the Pileated Woodpecker cam. Saw both male and female feeding. Never saw them that closely before but now I see the red on the male's cheek clearly. Also saw what I think is probably a male Brewer's Blackbird flitting in and out. Pale yellow eye, iridescent plumage and rounded tail often diamond shaped. I've only seen them in winter plumage before with less iridescence.  Flocks of them used to land on my lawn in Powell River, BC, Canada mixed in with Red-winged and a lot of Starlings.  They came around Christmas Bird count time so we used to go looking for them to add to our count.  This year, I've seen lots of Starling flocks but very few Brewers with them and no Red-wings.  I wonder if both the Red-winged and Brewers numbers are down and why?
    • Sylvia
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      SylCarno
      Activity#1 - in our backyard I saw a robin and a hummingbird -  easy to tell apart. activity #2 - I saw 3 black birds outside - a grackle, a starling and a cowbird. Grackle has an iridescent hood, cowbird has a brown hood and the starling has speckles of yellow throughout its body.3875D80C-EFCA-4861-8824-BB627C112E4C activity # 3 - mourning doves search on the ground for food; hummingbirds feed at the nectar feeder; yellow finch feeds at seed feeder. Activity #4 - the goldfinch is a small bird, about the size of a sparrow. The male is bright yellow with black markings on its wings. When flying it dips and swoops, intermittently flapping its wings. phew! I think I covered all the activities!    
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      kfawley
      I am enjoying these activities, as they have helped me think about identification strategies I'm not prone to using. For reference, I'm located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, near a river and small wooded areas, so most of my sightings and activities have been regarding birds typical of this area. Activity 1: Two birds I can easily tell apart by shape are blue jays and mourning doves. Activity 2: Three birds that share the same color on different parts of their bodies are cardinals, red-wing blackbirds, and red-bellied woodpeckers. Activity 3: Behaviors of 3 birds searching for food: white-breasted nuthatch climbing down a tree, robins grazing on the ground, and eastern peewee flying out and back from a branch. Activity 4: I saw a cedar waxwing this weekend and here's how I identified it: First, I noticed it was perched high in a treetop in a grove of old-growth trees (behavior, habitat), its yellow belly visible from below. I initially considered it may be a type of warbler, but it was roughly the size of a robin (size), and in particular the yellow tip of the tail gave it away (markings). The crest and black mask only served to confirm my ID. Later that day, I recognized the high-pitched whine (sound) while outside my house and saw that three cedar waxwings decided to visit a large oak in my yard!
    • Cathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 45
      cgtv123
      Activities 1-3:  During a walk last week, I noted around 4 grey-colored birds.  2 of them were mourning doves - which seem to be quite prevalent this Spring.  I already knew the shape/appearance of the morning dove.  But the other birds were very beautiful and I hadn't really noticed this type before (at least not close up).  Using the Merlin app, I discovered they were cat birds.  This was quite a surprise.  I didn't realize they were so beautiful. Regarding food foraging, on the same walk (if I recall correctly) I saw some robins in their typical worm retrieving behavior.  And I noticed quite a few house sparrows flittering in the grass and others just hanging out.  There were a mix of males and females - and although sparrows are quite common by my complex, the black bibs on these really stood out.  I went back to my field guide and identified them as house sparrows - which made me feel good because sparrow identification is definitely not my strong point (yet).  I realized I have much to learn about sparrow identification.   Recently, I was awoken by a very loud drumming of a woodpecker.     Although I did not see the bird, I imagined that perhaps this was the same pileated woodpecker who visited a month or so ago, just based on the loudness of the drilling.  But that is probably not alot to go on, as drilling even from a smaller one can be louder than expected.  We get alot of them in the trees by my apartment.
    • Stephen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      stwanesa
      Apparently the system does not like the association of "e-r-e-c-t" and "stance" together that were used to describe the fact that the nuthatch does not have the same posture as other perching birds.
    • Stephen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      stwanesa
      attempt #4 - the remainder of activity 2 which is now split into three responses; Activity 2 – White-breasted Nuthatch: “dark crown and nape; white face; gray back” [ca. 6”], narrow pointed beak, creeps down tree trunks, eats at feeders, tends to occur as one or two individuals, correct range.
    • Stephen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      stwanesa
      Third attempt to get it all in: Activity 2 – three black and white birds: Chickadee: “black cap and bib; white cheeks, buff flanks” [ca. 5 ¼ “], foraging in trees or at feeders, “winter flock of 6-10 birds”, distinctive song, correct range.
    • Stephen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      stwanesa
      this is part two - actually the first part of my response as I am trying to determine why the system gave me an error that I was using mature or inappropriate language? Activity 1 – distinguishing by size/shape/attitude/activity – From sightings on the Souris River at Wawanesa, Manitoba: Bufflehead & Double-crested Cormorant. Using Stokes Field Guide: Bufflehead, “small duck [ca. 14”] with a large rounded head.” Swimming in river, short neck, large white “wedge at back of dark head” range includes S. Manitoba; Cormorant, larger bird [ca. 33”] stands semi-upright on log or swims with body low in water, all black, long neck, long orange beak, range includes S. Manitoba.
    • Stephen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      stwanesa
      Dark-eyed Junco: (slate coloured race), “pale bill; dark eye; whitish belly; tail dark with conspicuous white outer feathers”, [ca. 6”] , dark gray with white belly, small short heavier beak, correct range. Activity 3 – food finding behaviour: Robin – walking on ground listening probing ground; Chipping Sparrow – rapid movements along ground or in trees; House Sparrow – searching grass and leaf litter for food. Activity 4 – identify favourite bird: Raven – black, wedge shaped or rounded tail, moderate to large size, correct range, wide range of vocal croaks, squawks, mews and gargles, [you can tell when a hawk is around as there is a very rapid “Hawk, Hawk, Hawk”] spends time training up young with many lessons and determined weaning, loves to soar and play in the wind. Re: photo - We have had over 120 house sparrows at our feeder, porch and yard at one time under certain winter weather conditions. Particularly ca. -30 C., sunny, and north or northwest wind. birds Oct 15 2019 002
      • Catherine
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        cvanderplaats
        That is so lovely, Stephen!!! I'm jealous--since I join some others with the squirrel frustration. Here there are greys (majority), some with a reddish top on its back and tail, some blacks, and.... some whites. Others have said that even the so-called "squirrel-proof" bird-feeders are no match for this army. Do you not have that problem? Many of the classmates do a lot of bird-watching and identifying from their house, through their feeder: I would love to do that, too..... :(
    • Nonna
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      nonnasku
      It's disappointing that these discussion threads are not moderated.  Everyone posts a comment, but then there are very few to almost no responses and no responses from a moderator. This makes the discussion threads not very useful for learning -- there is no "discussion" that occurs.
    • Carolyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      cfkterry
      # 1.  My larger garden and bird feeders are on the east side of my house.  Looking east in the early morning or a bright overcast day it's often hard to see colors so I am forced to pay careful attention to silhouettes which is a real challenge with finches except for the Pine Sisken which is the smallest and often likes to feed upside down.  The Northern flicker and Downy woodpecker are easy because they are the largest and smallest of the woodpeckers.  (The Pileated is larger but has a shape all its own.)  I've learned to recognize the Downy by the size of its bill in relationship to the diameter of the head, almost more easily done when it's a silhouette.   #4. One of my favorite birds is the Chickadee of which I have two types:  Black capped and Chesnut backed.  Both have black caps and chin patches under their beaks.  A white V area spreads from the beak to the back of the cheek, only I've notieced that a few have a curved line on the top side of the "V".  By reading up on them for this assignment I learned that that is an Eastern trait as is  buffy yellowish undersides as opposed to the brownish undersides of the western Black caps so our area in the Pacific Northwest has a mixture of Blackcaps. The Chesnut backed look like they're wearing a rust colored vest.  Both tend to flit and fly fairly rapidly from branch to feeder and back around the branches (not on the ground). They only take one seed at a time and then peck at it daintily on their perch.
      • Catherine
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        cvanderplaats
        Regarding your woodpecker comment, Carolyn, I found the exercise in this lesson *very* useful: identify the woodpecker, in ten tries. It helped me "identify" the marks I needed to look at in order to identify the bird. That was the visual part--I'm going to have to go through the sound part again, am finding that more difficult for some reason: love to hear them all the time, but I guess I hear it as a concert--now I'l have to work on the solos...
    • Lara
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      LaraDD
      Today I took a walk and brought my binoculars, which I have recently learned how to use thanks to this course! I live on a country road in rural Massachusetts, with both wooded and meadow areas. Lots of birds and bird songs today! The first thing that happened was I heard a song that was unfamiliar to me. I stood still and looked for the bird, and then kept my eyes on it as I brought the binoculars up. But I didn't really need to look through them to know it was a Baltimore Oriole! Beautiful. It stayed with me as I walked, and kept singing that same song of an upward note and then a downward note. I started trying to copy it, and it seemed to be answering me! I also saw what I knew was a woodpecker from the coloring of black with bright red, and also because it was walking up the trunk of a tree. I was assuming it was either a downy or hairy woodpecker, and was focusing on the beak to see if I could figure out which one, and had settled on hairy. But the thing was that it seemed too big. I knew it wasn't big enough to be a pileated, but it had a red crown like the pileated. I checked Merlin, which suggested Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. Ooo maybe! Reading about it in my book, I think that's what I saw. I learned about a new bird today. I also think that might be the drumming we hear in the evening, because the book says they are territorial and drum loudly. I also saw an Indigo Bunting today! I have caught sight of some beautiful blue birds flying in front of my car on occasion, and today I saw one through my binoculars, and got a much better look at it. I'm much more sure that it is an Indigo Bunting that I have been seeing.
    • Jerry
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      jerrylee
      Dear Bird Academy, I am writing to comment on the activities I have participated so far.I thought that participating in these lessons were really helpful!it helped me a lot and I got to capture the beautiful birds in the trees around me. I would like to thank you as well. I was actually loved  birds since I was young and I longed to get the opportunity to watch a bird in the wild flying in the wild up close. I only knew that using binoculars to watch birds was the only way to have a closer look at it after participating in your course. I also felt that attending your lessons and activities improved my bird-watching skills. After reading the bird academy provided notes, I thought that the notes were dam helpful! I really want to thank the bird academy staff for all the efforts they have put in to help me in bird watching. I look forward to seeing your reply. Yours Faithfully, Jerry Lee ( a participant of bird academy)😀
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      bjkingape
      Activity #4. My favorite bird today is the Eastern Bluebird because I could ID it!  I used color-- predominantly blue body, red breast, some white-- and size (robin-sized) mostly, plus being here in Virginia. The bird was alone, not social, and flitted between a tree and our car. I also used the Merlin app to confirm, which it did. I like the process of checking multiple sources while I am still at this early stage of learning. EasternBluebird
      • Jerry
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        jerrylee
        Hi Barbara, I am Jerry (chirps 1), which country do you live in? I think that picture of an Eastern Bluebird is very beautiful! I have never seen that before. Well, I have a Rock Pigeon that visits us sometimes, I name it Do Do.
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 45
        cgtv123
        Very nice pic of the bluebird.  It seems quite large, or is that just how it looks from the angle.  I didn't realize they got that large!
    • David
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      dlfonner73
      Activity #1:  So for this activity, I saw a Pileated Woodpecker and a Red-Bellied Woodpecker.  One of first things I noticed was the size of the birds.  The Pileated Woodpecker is much larger, about the size of a Crow.  The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is more medium sized, about the size of a Blue Jay.  The head of a Pileated Woodpecker has a red crown with very long beak.  The Red-Bellied Woodpecker has a much rounded normal bird head with a shorter beak.  The Red-Bellied Woodpecker has black and white stripes on its wings and back where as the Pileated is mostly black when its not in flight.  Even though both of these birds are from the Woodpecker family.  They are easily able to be identified from each other due to their many differences to each other.  Please enjoy the pictures that I took of these two beautiful birds!Red-Bellied Woodpecker (2)Pileated Woodpecker (2)
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 45
        cgtv123
        Awesome picture of the Pileated woodpecker!
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      susanbender
      we love the live bird cam at feeder, and used Merlin to ID grackles. We also knew the red-winged blackbird and a female cardinal.  We plan on using the live bard cam in the future to get more experience identifying birds we aren't familiar with.
    • Cara
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Yesleks
      Hi everyone. For activity 4 I have chosen a male golden whistler. He is a small bird. Short body and medium length tail. Small beak which curves slightly downwards to a point. Mostly yellow, but with black head and nape, and olive green wings. It has a white throat or bib, and black chest band. Legs, beak, and eyes are black. Seen in Australian bushland perched on a horizontal gum tree branch, singing his distinctive and loud song.
    • Vashti
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      vashti
      1. This evening we walked to the reservoir and saw a pair of horned grebes, and a pair of buffleheads.  They are both small duck-like water birds, but have very different shapes. The buffleheads looked rounded and compact, and the male has a large, bright white patch on the back of his head.  The female has a little white patch on her cheek, and is mostly grey and black. The male and female grebes have the same coloring, with a long thin neck, longer narrow beak and a bright yellow/orange tuft from their eye to the back of their head.  They look very striking, but they're not round and chunky looking as the buffleheads. 2. Red: The male sapsuckers have bright red on the top of their heads and on their throats. The male red winged blackbirds have a bright red patch on each shoulder/wing.  The red breasted nuthatch has reddish orange on his chest. 3. Food finding: The northern harriers spends a lot of time flying, gliding low above the fields and trees, looking for something to eat.  The white throated sparrows in my yard spend lots of time searching for food on the ground.  They hop twice then peck into the grass, or into my flower beds.  It just stopped raining today, and the robins are hopping through the wet grass looking for food.  They don't seem to both with little insects; i think they are eating the worms that came up to the surface because of all the rain. 4. The northern harrier is a medium size raptor, smaller than a red tailed hawk, but way bigger than a kestrel.  It has a white rump patch, and flies low to the ground, gliding with its wings held high in an elegant v shape, rather than holding them parallel with the ground. It frequents the farmland and small lakes, but is less commonly seen in the conifer forest areas.  I listened to its recorded call on the Merlin app, but i have never heard them make a sound when they fly by...
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      mcbenziger
      activity 1:  crows and ravens are common here in Santa Fe.  Now, when I see one soaring I know it's a raven!  If it's flapping away I assume it's a crow.  The tail shape (rounded for crow and wedged for raven) is more difficult for me to discern.  On the ground, the size difference, and the raven's shaggy throat makes identifying easier.
    • Carolyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      cfkterry
      My feeders and larger garden are on the east side so in the morning I am looking into the rising sun.  Early morning and overcast days it's bright and difficult to see colors so I am working on learning birds from their silhouettes - a challenge with the finches.  The Downy woodpecker and Norther Flicker are easy because the Flicker is huge compared to the Downy and I've learned to gauge that in relationship to the suet feeder and seed cylinder.  I used to have both Downey and Hairy woodpeckers in eastern Washington and finally learned to gauge the beak length in relation to the head. One of my favorite birds is the the chickadee: I have Blacked capped and Chesnut backed here. They are larger and rounder through the breast than the humming birds and smaller than sparrows and tend to dart about from branch to feeder and back to branch or bush.  Both types have black caps on their heads and white cheeks that spread in a V from beak to back on their cheeks.  The Chestnut backed look like they are wearing a rust colored vest and the Blacked capped are grey brown or buffy yellowish underneath.  I had noticed that a few of mine had a cheek with a curve between white and black along the upper side of their head as opposed to a straight V line and I've learned that those are like the eastern version which also includes the yellowish undersides, so we have a mix of eastern and western types  here  now - a fact I learned doing this lesson.
    • Bud
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Bud Reber
      This gobbler and hens are relatively common in some areas of St. Louis County Missouri. He works so hard to get the attention of the hens and they seem to simply ignore him. DSC_0233_2
    • Bud
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Bud Reber
      Baltimore Oriole that we were able to enjoy for about 3 days until he left. South St. Louis, Mo.DSC_0196_3
    • Carolyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Csachs
      I saw a Baltimore oriole and a wild turkey
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      pyoung_2024
      Today in my yard I had to Morning Doves a male and a female, but I wasn't sure what they were looking for let me know if anyone has any ideas.
    • Kenneth R
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      kennethrwindsor
      Activity 1: The Steller's Jay and California Scrub Jays which are so prevalent in our area, while (sort of) having similar colors, are easy to differentiate by shape due to the Steller's pompadour-like crown. Activity 2: The Varied Thrush, and Black-headed Grosbeak are easily confused for me due to the similar colors; and throw in the American Robin, especially when they all are moving, and things get messy:-) I find that the patterns (like the Varied Thrush's necklace) can really help distinguish birds with similar colors and size and shape. Activity 3: The Scrub Jay and Northern Flickers were both foraging on the ground in a nearby meadow today, but it seems the Flicker was looking for food, while the Jay may have been looking for nesting material. And the Acorn Woodpeckers seem to be ...well looking for acorns.:-) Activity 4: One of my favorites is the Acorn Woodpecker with [1] their clown-ish call (hee haw, hee haw), [2] their red cap, [3] their always seeming to move in groups and [4] the flash of white on their wings when they are in flight.
    • Gabrielle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      gaviots
      ACTIVITY 3: 1. We watched 2 crows picking up popcorn spilled near a picnic bench. They tried to fill their beak with as many pieces as possible. It was funny to see them dropping almost as many pieces as they picked up. We just thought they were being greedy. Later, we noticed one of the crows fly into a nest. Then we watched the crow feed its babies several times as it flew back and forth with more food. 2. We watched a brown creeper hopping up tree trunks in search of insects, then flying quickly down to start over again. 3. We watched a hairy woodpecker eating from out suet feeder.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      nielsenearl
      Activity 4: Pick your favorite bird, and see if you can describe it using at least three of the bird ID strategies (size and shape, color pattern and markings, behavior, habitat and range, and sounds). Share your description in the discussion. One of my favorite birds is one I see 3-4 times a year-The Pileated Woodpecker. He is not quite as big as a crow [which we have lots of] but I look to see if it's "Woody" every time a big shadow goes over.  He has a crest--crows don't. He [and she] come for one thing--a felled conifer that we left for a nurse log.  They settle in and begin to drill, and the pieces of wood start flying, and the bugs start disappearing.  They walk up the tree to peck, or stand on the ground, as you can see. They often come together as a pair, something I really like.  Stellars Jays do too. When they call you can hear them throughout the neighborhood.  They are shy but I got some pictures of them. 3 Woody 6-19-2019 Pair of Pileated 8-9-16 crop Pileated climbs a tree 8-9-16 crop
      • Patrick
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        pyoung_2024
        One of my favorite birds is the Hooded Merganser. I love watching it and identifying it. The three different ways I identified it was it's behavior because it swims. It's coloring with its black hood and partially brown on its body. Lastly, I was able to identify it by the duck's size it is larger than a crow.download (3)
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      jhenling
      Activity #2: Small Sparrows I chose to focus on differences in color between three small sparrows that I see frequently.
      • Lincoln Sparrow
        • Color: Brown and Grey
        • Markings: Black eyestripe, brown crown stripe, black dots/stripes on body
      • Savannah Sparrow
        • Color: Brown, White, and Yellow
        • Markings: Black eyestripe, yellow eyebrows (?), white/yellow eye ring, brown dots/stripes on body
      • Song Sparrow
        • Color: Brown, White, and Grey
        • Markings: Light brown crown stripe, "softer" patterns on body
      These ones are really hard for me to distinguish between. The Savannah Sparrow's yellow makes it the most "distinct" out of the three, so I would probably need to pay attention to behavior and foraging patterns/songs to tell the difference between a Lincoln Sparrow and a Song Sparrow.
    • Wendy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      wrogan
      Activity 4 Using the bird ID strategies from this lesson and the Merlin app, I was able to identify two different species that I had previously thought were the same bird. Hutton's Vireo and the Orange-Crowned Warbler are both small, olive green, insect-eating birds, but have distinct differences in markings. The white wing bars and eye rings of the Hutton's Vireo now stand out to me as distinguishing markings.
    • Harriette
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      hdgrissom77
      During a dog walk, I noted a couple of neat-looking little brown sparrow-type birds pecking at the ground.  Their markings were nicely defined, and they had a reddish/brown cap, a black line through the eye and white bit above.  When I got back home, I consulted my bird book.  There were several sparrows with reddish caps, but the well-defined eye markings suggested that this was a breeding chipping sparrow.  Distribution charts helped as well.  A couple of the other red-capped candidates weren't common to this area. We do have more exotic and colorful birds here in Atlanta--cardinals, towhees, bluebirds, blue jays, and many others.  But "little brown birds" always pose an interesting i-d challenge.
    • Bioscape Farm
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      mroberge
      #1 Where we live, this time of year we can easily identify Piliated Woodpeckers from all other birds due to it's shape. And we also have sandhill cranes that nest on our property that are very distinctive to anything else here. #2 At our feeder we get dark-eyed juncos, black-capped chickadees, and white-crowed sparrows that each have black, white and brown parts, but their colour patterns are very different from one another, which aids in identification. #3 The Ravens fly over our farm and scan the ground for anything to eat. Again the piliated woodpecker we saw ripping an old tree apart looking for food. The tree swallows are very active, flying overhead searching and eating insects in the air. And our pair of mallards on the pond peacefully bob up and down for food. #4 Not our favourite bird, but, we recently had a huge wind storm that must have pushed north some Bullock's Orioles. We had one at our feeder by the house and it confused us because it looked like a western tanager, which we get here, but the colour patterns were not quite the same. And the body share was definitely different. We didn't have Merlin yet, but the maps in our Sibley guide showed that the Bullock's came close to our location. So I asked a bird expert friend of mine, and even though it is rare for the bird to be here, it likely was. And since then, there have been other sightings, so our ID was confirmed.
    • Lindy
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      lindyjs
      Activity #3 Robins searching for worms Osprey hunting fish in the lake near us Song sparrow scratching for something in the shrubs (bugs?)
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      brownbarbaras
      The warblers are definitely going through here in southern Maine!  Today I saw a female yellow warbler (tentative id by size and color, then positive when she sang).  I id’d the song sparrow first by by its song (three first notes, then the rest).  Goldfinch flock both by coloring and the behavior in flight (up and down, up and down trajectory).  A week ago I saw this guy in a stand of brushy trees, which I think is a northern parula because, although in shadows, I had time to study him and am pretty positive I saw a greenish patch on his upper back, and a dark band across his throat/chest.  Apologies for the bad quality of the pix - I only had my phone zoomed in as much as possible, then cropped out all the brushy stuff.... C76762D5-61AA-489C-BA6A-4518706B8917495237FA-7144-4879-A64F-C265A50A158C
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      tummychair14
      Activity 2 I saw a rose breasted grosbeak, a northern cardinal, and a house finch that all have red on them. The grosbeak’s rosy red bib on the breast was easy to spot.The rest of the bird was black and white.His head was all black, his back was black and wings had white wing bars. His lower chest was white with the red bib prominent under his chin.  The female northern cardinal had a bright red beak, red on the wings and crest and rosy red breast area.  Finally the house finch has a red cap on his head, red breast and brown back with brown streaks on his flanks.  at first I wasn’t sure if he was a purple finch or a house finch, but on looking up those two in Sibleys, I could tell that my bird was a house finch.
    • Sam
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      samalama
      My favorite recent bird I have seen a couple of times while riding my bike out near marshes, and is the American Avocet.  I like this bird because of its long beak that I see it poking in the mud, presumably for food, and its distinguishable coloring.  This bird has a redish brown head with a white body and large black stripes on the wings.  It also has light blue legs.  It's a medium sized bird roughly the size of a crow and is often seen surveying the mud near shorelines.
    • Joan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Wantabee
      Activity 4:  Not necessarily my favorite bird but I spotted a pair of birds three days ago.  Had no idea what they were. Using the ID methods taught in this course I found out they were Eastern Kingbirds.  They landed on a Hydrangea Bush just outside my kitchen.  So I decided they were about the size of a Robin.  They both had the same markings.  It did not seem like there was a different between a male and a female.  They were a dark grey color with some white markings.  They had a white belly and it went all the way up under the chin.  They had a very black cap.  The best giveaway was the white tips of feathers on the very end of the tails. I did not hear them so could not ID with a song or call.   It was for me a great spot.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Louie!
      I had three different black birds at the feeder this morning. A very large Crow, several Starlings and the Red wing blackbird.  I wish  my bird book and Merlin would have photos instead of descriptions of the female counterpart . I have no idea what a female Red wing looks like.
      • Lindy
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        lindyjs
        Hi!  I saw your question about the female red winged blackbird and I realized that I didn't know what it looked like either (very familiar with the male) The female is a mottled brown apparently.  I will look out for that when I am out near the marsh area where I see a lot of birds - Lindy
    • Rod
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Rodney Kitick
      In our location (Northern Illinois),we enjoy all our backyard visitors and those we can find in our trips to local wetlands and nature preserves ! As far as those with distinct shapes to note , we have sizes and shapes  from the finches all the way up to mallards and the migratory egrets and herons and also predators that frequently raid the feeders, mainly red tailed hawks, and sharp shinned hawks.   When we are fortunate to have the waterfowl here, the size and shape come into play with the Great Egrets , and herons , as long with the hawks to help decipher them apart. As our Winter leaves us, we see groups of somewhat similar sized dark colored birds.... Grackles, Blackbirds, Cow Birds ,,,,feeding mostly on the ground under feeders.  The distinctive  red bands ease to ID of the redwinged blackbirds, the brown head/crown helps spot the cowbirds, and the iridescent blue head and crown aid in the ID of the Grackles. Feeding helps spot our woodpeckers, downy and hairy, at our peanut stations, our Northern Cardinals at our platform feeders going after striped , golden sunflower and safflower , and at this time of our early spring, both Baltimore Orioles, and Orchard Orioles at our fruit/nectar stations mainly oranges and grape jelly . Have many favorites, but must say I really enjoy the Nuthatches, both the Red Breasted and White Breasted. Love to see them visiting our feeders, taking their seed and heading to our trees and going down the trunk upside down. Also love to hear their chattering and calls when I'm out restocking the feeders !!! Wish we saw them more often !!089  
    • Allan Wilson
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      anngw7000
      As a backyard birder I am familiar with a dozen or so regulars, and half a dozen spring migrants who drop in for a day or days.  Some of the birds are in pairs, and so we get to know them individually (downey and hairy woodpeckers, cardinals, orioles, robins) while others form flocks (goldfinches (spring), house sparrows (by spring, 15 to 20, by fall, 40+).  Close knowledge of a limited set of birds provides a good measuring stick when observing birds in parks, on the waterfront, and so on.  The house and barn swallows in the waterfront parks, for example, are bigger than goldfinches, infinitely elegant flyers, easily identified by their forked tails and differentiated by breast colours.  I find binoculars are mostly unnecessary - the home birds are close, the park birds fly close if you stay still long enough.  Not particularly interested in lists, either.  Just find birds endlessly interesting.
    • Trevor
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      SomeCrazyStuff
      A question as I progress through this section: Why is it that some birds can have size and color difference and still be considered the same species while others can have size and color differences but are considered separate species? For example, a song sparrow from Arizona is more lightly colored than one from British Colombia (or so I read in a Sibley book) but they are the same species whereas American Crows and fish Crows are nearly identical but are considered different species whereas eastern and western meadowlark have slightly different plumages but are consider different species. Or, another example, rock pigeons have dark and tan and white morphs but are all specifically rock pigeons. Are the species differentiated by actual DNA or genetical differences? For species who are so similar, using the song sparrow example again, are they genetically identical and simply have the slight color or feature size variations because of their local environment? As for species such as the rock pigeon where all of the variations can be seen in the same location, why are they so different assuming they are the same species?
    • Alistair
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      AGMunro
      1. Duck and cormorant. Cormorant, - upright posture when on land. Longer neck and longer thin bill. Smaller head. 2. Song sparrow, field sparrow and house sparrow. I find the sparrows hard to identify but the app made it much easier plus having photos to refer to. _DSC9334_DSC9239_DSC9288 3. Red-winged blackbird, - foraging on the ground. Mallard duck feeding in water. Tree swallow feeding in flight. 4. Red-tailed hawk. Large, rounded wings and tail. Red tail. Gliding, soaring in circles. Common in Toronto and resident all year.
    • Jo Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      joannetpt
      Activity 1:  The Canada Goose is a large bird with a long neck, relatively short legs, and big feet.  The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is very small with wings moving in a blur and a very long thin bill that iBird describes as needle shape.   Activity 2:  I got lucky. Usually, I see only Robins and Cardinals wearing red. Today I also saw a Scarlet Tanager and a hummingbird. I knew their common names already, but I was surprised how easy it was to find them using Merlin. I have now learned their full names. The American Robin has an orange chest and underparts according to Merlin and rich red-brown breast according to iBird Pro. The Northern Cardinal is solid red except for its black mask and throat. Scarlet Tanager is described as being a brilliant red except for its black wings and tail. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird has a bright red throat.   Activity 4:  My favorite bird is the Common Loon. It is a large bird that spends its life in the water except when it makes a nest close to the water. It has a black bill and white breast and black and white patterns on the rest of its body. It has a striking white and black neckband, which we call a necklace. It feeds by diving underwater and can stay down for a long time. It has a number of calls, such as an eery wail, several varieties of a tremolo, and a hoot. It spends the summer primarily along the northern border of the US, and Alaska and Canada. In the winter, it migrates to the Atlantic or Pacific coast and southeastern US. In the winter, it turns mostly gray, including it’s bill, with a dull white underparts.
    • Margaret
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      houstonpeggy
      PyrrhuloxiaphainopeplaNorthern Cardinal I recently saw a pyrrhuloxia in a Sonoran desert community. It clearly had the shape and size of a Northern Cardinal but very different markings with a short yellow bill and red face and some dusty red on its wings. We also have what we call a "black cardinal" which are pretty abundant and its very distinctive- all shiny black witha red eye. So three different cardinals in the desert!
      • Aaron
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        A.M.Bradley
        What you call a "black cardinal" is actually named a Phainopepla. Hope this helps!
    • Evelyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Coco63
      1. I had 2 different doves at my feeder same color and similar actions. One was a Mourning Dove the other was a Eurasian Collard Dove. The Mourning Dove was petite and the Eurasian Collard Dove had a larger Chunkier body and a collar around it's neck. 2. I used the Cornell web-cam at Sapsucker Woods and spotted a Red Winged Blackbird, A Red Bellied Woodpecker and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. (Bottom right corner) I believe I got this right. This one looks like it has a more red breast than the one on the Merlin ID app. If I am wrong can someone let me know, thanks. Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 8.06.55 AM 3. I saw a Chipping Sparrow on the ground beneath the feeder. It hops and digs. It flew into the nearby bushes when startled. I saw a Robin in my hummingbird garden. She hopped, stopped tilted her head, stood still then repeated. She finally found a worm. I had a black-capped Chickadee eating seed from the feeder. Although when the feeder holes were full he went to the ground to eat. 4. My favorite bird is a Bald Eagle. They are large brownish black with a white head and tail. They usually live near bodies of water. We have a pair at Stanley Lake in Westminster, Colorado. They soar with wings flat and head far out in front of them. They are majestic. To see one takes your breath away. I follow several different Eagle cams and enjoy watching th young hatch and grow to maturity.
      • Teresa
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        Eagles56
        Hi Evelyn, I do not think that the one in the bottom right is a rose breasted grosbeak.  I am pretty sure that this is actually a Baltimore Oriole.  It's a little hard to tell, but I think the breast is actually orange not red.  I know that the beak is too thin for a grosbeak.  (gross means large is German, so I think that is something to keep in mind).  Also, I was also watching the Live Cam the other day, as saw quite a few of the Orioles, so that is my best guess  I hope this helps.  If someone else disagrees, please let me know.  We are all still learning! Thanks, Terri
    • Eileen
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Babybluebentley
      Activity #4 - I have two favorite birds:  hummingbird and catbird.  Unfortunately, I never see hummingbirds where I live.  I live on a barrier island in New Jersey and we don't have enough vegetation to sustain them.  They are very abundant if you go onshore though. My new favorite is the catbird.  I think they have the loveliest sound and we do have quite a few of them around my house.  They love the red berries on a neighbor's Aucuba.  They pick them off of the bush, and take them to the cement sidewalk where they eat them and leave the pits.
    • Andres
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      ojovisor
      3. The only birds I´ve seen finding food are the yellow finches that go to the gound to pick between leaves with some other brownish birds that I havent paid much attention yet. The kiskadees como frequently to the pool border to drink, standing on the edge with confidence. 4. The bird I´ll try to describe is a Black and Red one. It is smaller than a Robin, has very bright red chest, black head and wings, I´ve seen both with black bill only, and one with some part of the bill white as well (the lower part). I´ve seen it flying, and on trees, but not in very visible branches, rather in the inside of the tree (compared with the (as yet unidentified yellow, bronwn and gray bird from activitie 1) that always seem to be showing off in very visible and open tip branches). Some of them seem brigther than others (I´m guessing male-female), but really still not sure. What I noticed was the tail opening in a fan like fashion while perching or drinking water by the edge of the pool. I´ve been relying on Merlin (phone) as I has not yet get any field guide, but I´m guessing is a Crimson-Backed Tanager. I share some (regular) pictures hoping for any help to pinpointing all of the birds mentioned. L1020307 L1020345 Cheers.
      • Evelyn
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        Coco63
        I think that maybe the same bird I saw on the bird cam. I am not sure what it is. If you find out please let me know.
    • Andres
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      ojovisor
      1. Just by shape I could recognize both a Woodpecker (sound helped) and a Parrot (sound helped also). After using Merlin I guess that they were a Red Crowned Woodpecker and a Spectacled Parrotlet (plenty of them). L1020019   2. I,ve seen  various yellow (more or less) birds and had a hard time IDing them. One of them mostly yellow and easier, I found was a Zafron Finch, the other two were trickier. Both had yellow chest,vwhite throat and brown wings. Their diferences were mostly in the head, one being a kind of Kiskadee (there are many and still not sure between them) with its black/white head -I would say black mask over white head (?)-, the other one with a gray/silvered head that I haven´t been able to ID with Merlin. I share some pictures, so any info would be very nice. L1020100 (1) L1020075
      • Andres
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        ojovisor
        By using Merlin in my computer rather than the phone I was able to now ID this bird as a Tropical Kingbird. Nice. Im going to rely even more on the main page rather tahan the mobile app to see if I can get those birds that havent been showing on the app.
    • Brian
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      alfamiens
      Activity 1:  I have seen birds of approximately the same size but silhouetted by the sun and can't see their colours.  The Grackle is much slimmer with a thinner profile than the American robin.
    • Lee Ann van Leer
      Participant
      Chirps: 78
      LilacRoller
      Reminder: Please only post photos that you took. Copyright restrictions prohibit the posting of images taken by other people. Thanks so much.
      • Margaret
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        houstonpeggy
        Sorry about that- just saw this notice and won't do it again!
    • Jill
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      jmjohnson
      Activity 4: My new favorite bird is the Yellow-rumped Warbler. It is about the same size and shape as a sparrow. The Yellow-Rumped Warbler has a bright yellow rump, a yellow patch under its wings, a black mask, white belly, and black and gray markings. It flits quickly about in trees and bushes, perching briefly before flying off again.
    • Jill
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      jmjohnson
      Activity 3: I observed several birds searching for food in different ways. All images from allaboutbirds.org. The Barn Swallow skimmed across Irondequoit Bay, eating insects. The Downy Woodpecker pecks in dead tree trunks to find insects.   The Bufflehead dives underwater to eat aquatic creatures.  
    • Jill
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      jmjohnson
      Activity 1: Two birds I can tell apart just by shape are the Mallard duck and the Mute Swan. While both are waterfowl, the swan is a larger bird with a longer neck. Activity 2: I was quite proud to use my newly-acquired binocular skills to identify three similarly-colored birds by their patterns and markings. While these three birds share the same colors (yellow, black, and white), their markings helped me identify them using my Paterson field guide. The Yellow Warbler is almost entirely yellow with some gray and black colorings on its back and wings. The Yellow-Rumped Warbler has a bright yellow rump, a yellow patch under its wings, a black mask, white belly, and black and gray markings.  The American Goldfinch is bright yellow with black forehead and wings. (Images from allaboutbird.org) Yellow Warbler Yellow-rumped Warbler American Goldfinch
    • Gerald
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      jerryg0452
      in answer to activity 1.  Yesterday I observed several double crested cormorants and a few mallards in a nearby bay.  The cormorant has the long slender neck and sits much lower in the water than the duck like appearance of the mallard. activity 2.   The ring necked duck, the lesser scaup and the common goldeneye all have various amounts of white and black.  It always takes me a while to see the difference.  The common goldeneye has the white patch on its face, the ring necked duck has more black feathers on its back and the female lesser scaup has a white ring behind its bill.  I find I have to get fairly close to make a positive id.  They all like to share the same bay. activity 3.  Yesterday I saw a pileated woodpecker looking for a meal in a huge poplar tree. On the same hike an ovenbird was on the trail looking for something to eat and several chickadees were also on the hunt for bugs. activity 4.  My favourite bird is the hooded merganser.  It is duck like in appearance. It has a large white crest on its head and is often found in smaller ponds or lakes.
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      LindaJimP
      For activity B:  three birds that have black would be : red winged blackbird, Canadian goose, and American crow
    • Diane
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      maeketsu
      We have great egrets and snowy egrets in our area.  Never could tell the difference, now I know the snowy has yellow feet! And the great egret has a kink in its neck.  (I feel that way often!)IMG_3383DSC02296
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Schmitty21
      North suburbs of Chicago. Over the last few years I've taken to scanning the tree-tops when in the car - both as passenger and driver. This week I saw a MASSIVE bird sitting alone at the top of a pine tree in a normal suburban neighborhood next to the road. Copper/Brown in color. It took my breath away. I turned around at the next opportunity to drive by for a second look. By then it was in flight. Pretty confident it's a red-tailed hawk. Just downloaded the Merlin app, will be enjoying that too. Thanks!
      • Mark
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        Fillthefeeder!24
        So many red tailed hawks here in the Jersey burbs.   Such a magnificent looking bird to watch either flying or up on a tree branch.   One time it just remained there not at all unnerved with my family active below.  He seemed to like the attention
    • susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      stangen
      Very active morning. In addition to the regulars I have in the yard, cardinals, finches, sparrows, doves, robins, I had a male and female rose-breasted grosbeak, a hooded warbler, a common yellow throat and 3 male Baltimore orioles.  Very fun to watch.
    • Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      BCHeritage
      I wish I had taken a picture.  I have an update for Activity 3: Look for three different birds that are searching for food today. What are their food-finding behaviors?  I always though cactus wrens just ate insects and seeds but I watch one killing and eating a small lizard.  I verified with my Audubon ap that this is known - not common but occasionally.  I can't find habits in Merlin .. although Merlin is great for ID.
    • Janice
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      bottejan
      IMG_3834 My favorite bird lately is the pileated woodpecker.  I often see one on my daily walk on a nature trail near my home in south central Pennsylvania.  While their cackling, laughing call deep in the woods lets me know they're in the vicinity, I  have also learned to tune my ears to listen to the solid thumping sound they make when digging into dead trees.  The one pictured here was tearing this tree apart while enjoying his breakfast.  As he turned towards the sun, I saw his red mustache, identifying the bird as a male.  I had to marvel at those neck muscles which bounce back and forth like they're on a spring.
      • Chuck D
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        Xavier_02536
        Very cool Janice, I too am a big fan of the PWP.  I wish I could see them more often but don't see too many here on Cape Cod.  Enjoy!
    • Deanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Dhostler
      Canada geese are common here and easy to identify by shape, so are robins
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      rspayne
      Activity 4  Favorite bird features: My great white egret is identified positively by its combination of a bright yellow beak and all black feet and legs. I am proud of this picture as I got the swing of the camera correct in order to capture the bird as it flew from the pond behind my house to the salt marsh 0.1 mi away behind the beach (Good Harbor) in Gloucester MA. great egret flight In Florida there are more snowy egrets who are almost the same size but have  a black beak and yellow feet.  The first one below I original thought was a grgreat snowy egret on beach white egret but think it might be a female.  As with most wading birds, their feet are often hidden in the sand or water.snowy egret The second snowy egret picture is much more identifiable.  He was waiting at a fish cleaning table for some free handouts. I am pretty sure he was showing his flume to impress a nearby great blue heron and a bunch of pelicans that he should be given more respect and maybe to the captain and mate that he should be given more fish scraps.
      • Mark
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        Fillthefeeder!24
        Sensational pictures Richard.
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      rspayne
      I found three species all feeding together at a park near the Estero River behind my condo.  I had often seen 2 together feeding on the same seeds but was surprised by the addition of a woodpecker which I had only seen in the trees before.  Reading other peoples posts it seems they do frequent bird feeders and Merlin helped quell my previous prejudice that they were predominantly insect eaters.  I am pretty sure that the prejudice developed because 95% of the time I see a woodpecker is because I hear it pecking at a tree and follow the noise.  Sometimes he is making a hole for a nest but mostly digging in the tree bark or a dead tree for insects. The cardinal and blue jay are amongst the full time residents of both of my snowbird locations (northeast Massachusetts-Gloucester and SouthWest Florida (Estero)  Looking at the woodpecker pictures more closely I can see the large pit of a small fruit or olive tree that is nearby.  cadinals and woodpecker grassblue jay grass side
    • Riccardo
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      rcdrcd
      ACTIVITY 3: Considering three common bird that I can see from my house: the common swift, the eurasian blackbird and the italian sparrow. The first catch insects flying in the sky all the time, the second catches insect in the ground moving leafes and the terrain, the last eats seeds and pieces of food in the ground.   ACTIVITY 4: One of my favourite bird is the eurasian blackbird, Turdus Merula. The male is glossy black overall, with bright yellow bill and eyering. It's a medium-sized bird, its dimension is more or less the same as the american robin. It has a rich caroling song mostly heard at the sunrise and at the sunset.IMG_3052
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      rspayne
      Abirsa at 16 (1)Bird ID Practice: Activity 1 Shape differences.  This is one of my favorite pictures and the shape differences are readily observable.  The sleek smooth and slender shape of the the egret is easily differentiated from the stocker, broader body, more substantial bill and broader all over scope of the wood stork.  The great blue heron in the back is intermediate between the two others.  The ducks well they look like ducks out of water in this case. IMG_7778P3290382 Activity 2 Color is the color yellow.  My first use of Merlin helped me ID the great crested flycatcher.  He is bigger than the goldfinch (everyone knows what they look like) and this warbler.   The flycatcher has four (or 5) colors (blue shoulders, black wing, yellow belly, white and rusty colored tail.  I never got a good enough picture of the warbler to firmly identify it, but the size and shape and splashes or yellow pretty firmly classify it.  The goldfinches are the bright spots of yellow who arrive in MA in early spring and stay until they finish eating all of my sunflowers.
      • Aaron
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        A.M.Bradley
        Where do you live? I might be able to help you ID this warbler.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      Northstar56
      Good morning, all! I'm very much a beginner and really enjoying this course. Going through it very slowly. Activity 1: I can tell the difference between a hawk, eagle and osprey by the shape of their spread out wings. Plus body shapes are different. Activity 2:  I used the Merlin App to find out what kind of nuthatch I saw the other day! I determined it is a red breasted nut hatch by its black eye band. None of the other nuthatches had it. Activity 3: No luck on this activity today. I do know that ducks search for food by tipping their heads into the water. Nuthatches search for insects on trees (I think). Activity 4: One of my favourite birds is the Common Loon. Of course, its distinctive plaintive call is easy to identify. Also, it's body shape while floating on the water is distinctive to my eye. Something about the shape of its neck. It's back is what I call a checkerboard of black and white. I often spot one on a nearby lake. Then other day, one stayed near to the shore for me to watch close up for awhile. I even caught a picture of it preening upright in the water.
    • Marjorie
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      marjorielodwick
      Activity 1: Swallow (I think Violet-Green, but it might have been a Tree Swallow) have a very different shape (and flight) than a house wren. The swallows dive and swoop and glide, while the wren beats his wings quickly and rhythmically. Activity 2: Rust-red-brown (rufous!). American Robins have the red breast, a Chipping Sparrow (first for me!) has a lovely rust brown cap, and a Rufous Hummingbird is pretty much rust-brown all over! Activity 3: Robins hop-scratch with two feet, and then peck the ground. Sparrows eat seeds (or bugs?) off of grass and dry flower stalks. I watched the wren for a long time but couldn't see where he was getting his food. Activity 4: The Calliope Hummingbird is one of my favorites, and I saw my first for-sure one of the season today (we also have Rufous and Anna's). Tiny, bullet-shaped body, pale green back. Light underside, tiny vertical lines of spots going down chin and breast (female). Hover-zip flying style, perched on a twig for a bit, but generally moves around a lot and very fast. Habitat is mountain meadow and thickets near streams in conifer forests.
    • Mary Alice Smith
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Landyce1
      Activity 2: I am trying to learn warblers and today went looking for a Prothonotary Warbler that had been seen nearby. I was looking for a yellow bird. I found singing Yellow Warblers, which are distinguished from other warblers by the orange stripes on the male's breast. There were so many that I really got to know the Yellow Warbler's song. I also found Common Yellow Throat, distinguished by their black masks. I found another yellow warbler that I thought at first was the Prothonotary, but this warbler had a black strip through it's eye. I found photos of a Blue-Winged Warbler that matched the bird I say. When I played its song, I recognized it immediately. So, it was fun to work on identifying yellow warblers today in Rhode Island. Also saw and identified a White-Eyed Vireo, which also is a small yellow bird that appears in the spring in Rhode Island.
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      bcarrier
      I find myself using the Merlin app more and more.  It is very easy to use to identify a bird.  I even took a photo of what I thought were heron nests and took a picture hoping to get the bird and the nest.  I was not completely successful but Merlin did identify the bird as a Blue Heron.  Amazing!
    • Martha
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      marthac1
      I've got pretty good at identifying all the birds I can see from my window by sight, so I've been trying to learn their songs so I can tell which ones are around even when I can't spot them, which is getting harder now that the leaves have all grown back on the trees. When I hear a great tit close by I know they're going to show up at the feeder any second, so it's also helped me spot them more often.
      • Debra
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        debblount
        I, too, have gotten pretty good at IDing the birds I regularly see at my feeders: Chestnut backed chickadees, Juncos, towhees, nuthatches, song sparrows, now purple finches and black capped grosbeaks. I've been practicing learning their songs, but still hear new ones in the woods I cannot identify. I understand Cornell also has a birdsong ID class, may look into that.
    • susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      stangen
      I have many birds feeding in the yard including house finches, sparrows, and gold finches which are feeding on seeds.  I also had a Baltimore oriole feeding on an orange and a wood thrush scrapping in the leaf litter under the corneliancherry dogwoods.  I like using multiple field guides for identification.  I find different field guides will have some different information which will help me positively identify the bird.  They also provide different pictures.  I will then go on the internet to listen to their song.
    • Riccardo
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      rcdrcd
      1547F117-9B62-4710-978A-D7CB43B69422 Eurasian blue tit (cyanistes caeruleus), Modena, Italy 99023932-7A74-4BA7-95A7-14CA93BE080E
      • Great tit (parus major), Modena, Italy ACTIVITY 1: Around my house I see a lot of Eurasian blue tit (cyanistes caeruleus) and Great tit (parus major). They could seem very similar at a first view and from far away. But the first is smaller, more rounded and has a shorter bill compared to the head.
      ACTIVITY 2: considering the European serin, the European goldfinch and the common firecrest they all have some yellow part. The first has the majority of the chest, the second has wing patches and the third a cap. Using the Merlin app it is possible to easily distinguish the from the size, the shape and the other body pattern that they have.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      1ltgaynor
      I have been doing a lot of bird watching as a pandemic escape and the Merlin Bird ID app works fantastic.  Last weekend,  on my hike we spotted a lot of very different birds.  Activity 1:  I found a large hawk size bird and a small sparrow size bird but did not know either one.  With the app's questions, I easily came to a Black-crowned Night Heron and a White-throated Sparrow.  The Heron was such a find as it was sleeping in some bushes.  Activity 2:  I spotted several different kind of woodpeckers.  All had a combination of red, black and white.  I really had to work at telling the difference between a Hairy Woodpecker  and a Downy Woodpecker but I do think I got it once looking at the becks.  The other woodpecker I identified was the the Red-bellied Wookpecker.  It is easier than the other two because their pattern is different.  Activity 3:  I found three different type of birds looking for food and ID them but there food foraging was very different- Great Blue Heron was fishing in the the river, the Black Rumped Warbler was moving around the top of a blooming tree and a White-Breasted Nut Hatch looking for bugs on a tree trunk.  Activity 4: One of my favorite is the Baltimore Oriole.  First spotting of the season,  I used it color scheme-bright orange and black,  its size - robinish and it's call to ID it.   After doing this lesson, I tried the photo id option in Merlin.  I had a picture take of the Oriole and it ID it perfectly.  I would try using it.  My picture quality was not the best and it still worked great.
    • Peter
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      clifp9915
      FCE40708-CC05-493B-8BB8-7FDDBCD55A4749EBBBE7-F2CE-4148-B905-906658E21D0BOsprey nesting and Great Blue Heron. Walking along a pond in Eagle, ID
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      PowellS9
      For Activity 1 I watched the Bird Cam at the feeder in Sapsucker woods at Cornell lab.  I used Merlin to ID a couple of the birds-but by size/shape I could right away tell apart European Starling from Black Capped Chickadee.  Other birds I ID'd at the feeder using Merlin were Red winged Blackbird and Baltimore Oriole (adult female).  The Bird Cams are pretty cool-they're a great feature to use especially right now! For Activity 3, I saw a mallard looking for food in the pond/wetland area in our backyard.  An American Robin was pecking at the ground around the neighborhood, and I also saw a Killdeer during my run that had been on the ground and took off as I went by.  The Killdeer was tricky to ID using Merlin, I didn't put in the right identifiers at first, but luckily I had seen it's back/tail as it flew away so I saw the orangey/brown color on it's rump/tail.  It's shape in the air and it's call helped me confirm that's what I saw as well.
      • Rachel
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        RPowell3
        Hi Sarah, I id'ed Killdeer by saying, size of a robin, black, white and buff/brown, found on the ground, and that got me the Killdeer as first choice! Happy birding! Rachel
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Missesmary
      For activity 2 we went to the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and saw so many birds, even a Trumpeter swan (we think, as it was hard to see the bill color to be certain).  But what was challenging was seeing eagles, ospreys and turkey vultures.  At times it was hard to say for sure what was flying overhead due to the dark colors on all.  We used the Merlin app and it did help. For activity 1 at my home feeder, I can tell the difference by the shapes because I know the birds that regularly come to my feeder, and have identified them in the past.  It is more difficult to tell just by shape in the wild, it is needed to know the size also, and maybe the color or sound will help to.  We saw tree swallows and sparrows and the shape of the bird and its flight was enough to help differentiate. I love learning these new ways of looking at birds in this course!!!
    • Moya
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      moyakinnealey
      Act.1  today I saw two black birds one was a crow and one was a starling. They differed by size and shape  (as well as behavior). Act3 Today I watched three birds looking for food. The cat bird was  on the ground flitting in low bushes and  sorting through leaves (looking for insects). The dove  was also on the ground  but stayed under the bird feeder looking for seeds.The cardinal flew from branch to branch in the trees and onto the bird feeder to eat seeds. Act4 I like the gold finches . They are small like a sparrow. Their coloring in the winter is an olive/brown color  with darker stripes on their wings. In the late spring an summer the male is bright yellow with black wings, cap and tail. The female is more green on her back  and a duller yellow on her abdomen. They like seeds and perch on flower stem and grasses to eat seeds. They live in fields, bushes and roadsides. They have an undulating flight and  have a sweet, high four syllable song.
    • Aixa
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      topsytree
      The Merlin app is very useful. I have been able to learn more about other species in our area that I was having trouble identifying such as  the Eastern Phoebe. A couple of pairs of  Eastern Phoebes are nesting nearby. Am still working on identifying some other species ... it is a great exercise.
    • Aixa
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      topsytree
      Canada goose pair spotted in the neighborhood. Enjoy seeing them fly overhead.   IMG_2238
    • Mary Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      makelly415
      I am in Yorktown, Westchester County. Activity 1: This morning  on my walk, a red-tailed hawk swooped down and landed on a tree branch in front of me. It just sat there as I stood still with no camera!  Right after that, a downy woodpecker came by. Definitely, two different shapes! Activity 2: Yesterday, at Croton Riverwalk, I used to Merlin to identify a pair of red-winged blackbirds and a grackle, obviously blackbirds. Activity 3: At my birdfeeder, the chipping sparrow with land on the feeder to feed. The mourning doves will feed underneath the feeder, while the robins are hopping all over my yard. Activity 4: So there is an famous eagle’s nest at FDR State Park, that can be seen off the Taconic Parkway. It has become a pandemic escape to go over to the park in the evening and watch at least one eagle perched in the trees. The nest has eaglets in it and it is a joy to watch.
      • Mary
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        MFlorin-McBride
        Mary Ann, I’m in Croton... the Croton Pt Park is really good for birdwatching, lots of eagles, turkey vultures and ospreys.  The Riverwalk you mentioned gets killdeer families and cormorants. MaryFM
    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      ACanfield
      I have found the Merlin app most helpful and oh so easy to use! I have used it numerous times. The amount of information in the app is really something. Just a little swiping and you can find the sound it makes and a map. Describe a bird; small in size, larger than a sparrow, smaller than a robin; habitat forest, eats at bird feeders, small thick orange beak, bright yellow  head, belly and back, bars on the wings mostly black in color, black forehead.
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      rspayne
      Coopers Hawk side2  Bird ID Activity 1: This is a photo from last year just after I got my 40-150 sense for Olympus.  I think this is a coopers hawk from my previous searches through the bird guides that I have.  It is a juvenile that I saw hunt in the neighborhood a few times.  A feature not captured in a photo is its fan shaped tail that appears white with black stripes, ie the white is 50% broader than the black on the tail.  Merlin from my descriptions suggests a red shouldered hawk is more likely in Florida. Pertinent to this exercise though, another bird hunts in the neighborhood as well.  It is a little smaller with a long forked tail.  It is a swallow tailed kite.  I don't have a good picture but once you have seen one fly nearby, it is impossible not to recognize.
    • Kim
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      kgarrison7
      Activity one: the black headed grosbeak and the hooded oriole are the two birds in my yard I used for comparison. They are very similar in color but the grosbeak has a much broader beak than the oriole. The body is also slimmer on the grosbeak and more rounded on the oriole. activity two: I had a woodpecker in my backyard that does not come up in the app for my location. The markings are most similar to a yellow bellied sap sucker. I have also found a picture of a red naped sapsucker that is also very similar. It was definitely not the hairy woodpecker or the ladder-backed woodpecker that came up in the app. Activity three: the roofers hummingbirds search for food among the flowering shrubs in my backyard. The spotted towhee hops around in the grass, and the Woodhouse you activity three: the roofers hummingbirds search for food among the flowering shrubs in my backyard. The spotted towhee hops around in the grass, and the Woodhouse’s scrub jays prefer the suet over the birdseed. activity four: hooded oriole, Size is between a sparrow and a robin, shape is rounded like a robin, black mask and bib, bright orange head and chest, black wings with white bars. Beak is dark, narrow, and slightly curved.
    • Christopher
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      CD'Antonio
      I have just begin birdwatching casually, so just observing whoever may be passing through the front or back yard, so I will be a bit flexible with my responses: Activity 1: I can tell apart Common Grackles and Robins by shape as the grace is less rotund and has a more striking tail. Activity 2: I have identified Common Grackles, Cardinals, and Red Wing Blackbirds as three birds that have black coloring. The grackle has it as an eye ring and pupil, the blackbird is almost wholly black except for the patch of red, and the northern cardinal has a black mask behind its beak. Activity 3: I have seen morning doves, robins, and song sparrows prospecting amongst the lawn for something to eat, whether insect or seeds I could not tell. Activity 4: It's tough to pin down a favorite, but I think my favorites are the most uncommon for me to observe casually, whether Orioles, Mockingbirds, or Merlins. I'll describe the Orioles because the first time I saw them was yesterday; they appeared to be mating or competing for a mate by hopping from tree limb to tree limb. They appeared to be feeding at flowers on a nearby shrub, and they featured very striking and easily discernible colors with an orange breast and black upper body and white wing flashes.
    • Allison
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      AKirchner1979
      Activity 1:  When I first began feeding birds, I had lots of small brown birds which I assumed were all wrens.  I soon realized that most were actually sparrows.  I first used characteristics of shape to separate the wrens from the sparrows:  the wrens' tail position (cocked up) and their longer, curved beak.  I can now use color as well, but I am still trying to figure out all the striping patters on the sparrows!  Activity 2:  We'd gotten used to seeing downy woodpeckers, so we did a double-take when the first red-breasted grosbeak appeared.  The black and white and red colors are striking!  I don't think we've seen hairy woodpeckers or red-headed woodpeckers in our yard so far this year, but I'll be watching for them.  One day this year I had three brown birds in the yard, on the ground, at nearly the same time:  a wren, a thrush and a thrasher.  It was a bit like small, medium and large.  I haven't seen the thrush again, but the other two are reliable visitors.  Activity 3:  Just today I've seen the mourning doves waddling across the ground looking for seeds, the black-capped chickadee visiting quickly to grab a seed to carry away, and a gray catbird lingering at the feeders to peck at cranberries and the grape-jelly topped orange half.  Activity 4:  In the previous lesson I said that nuthatches were my favorite and that I primarily used their behavior (climbing down head-first) to identify them.  Their lovely bluish-gray, black and white coloring distinguishes them from the other smallish birds.  Their profile differs distinctly from the tufted titmouse which is similar in size and color.
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      michelle.mastellotto
      Activity 4 Favourite Bird White-crowned Sparrow. My favorite bird is always my last “best” bird. They can be the best because they are rare, they can be the best because it is the first time I have ever seen one, and they can be the best because it is the first time that I confidently and correctly identified them myself for the first time. That happened to me today (May 1, 2020) with a White-crowned Sparrow that was fleetingly at my feeders. I find sparrows challenging, and I have been working on them, so this was a bit of personal achievement for me. White-crowned sparrows are sparrow sized and shaped; not unusually large or small. They are a grey and brown bird with a clear grey breast and bold white and black stripes on their heads, like a bicycle helmet. They are ground foragers and tend to the forest edges and scrub areas. They can winter in my area which is far south-western Ontario near the Detroit River, but they breed up in the far north boreal forest. So this guy was going somewhere when he stopped briefly at my backyard feeder.wcsp
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      michelle.mastellotto
      Activity 3 3 Birds Foraging Behavior American Robin, House Sparrow, Mourning Dove. I list these 3 birds because they are in my backyard regularly and have very different foraging behaviors. Only the House Sparrow feeds directly from the feeders. The Mourning Doves forage from the ground. The Robins never come near the feeders but hop about on the grass or in the gardens looking for insects at this time of year.
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      michelle.mastellotto
      Activity #2 3 birds the same colour Chipping Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Field Sparrow. These are three little brown birds that take some practise to separate in the field. All three are rufous brown, grey, and black. All three have unstreaked breasts, rufous crowns, and eye-stripes, so you have to remember to carefully note the important features as these little birds bounce about. Here is what I look for American tree sparrow: bi-colored bill, black spot on the chest Chipping sparrow – no spot, white supercilium and brown eyeline Field Sparrow – pink bill, light colored legs, slightly white eye-ring, generally “pink and buffier” than the American tree, and Chipping Sparrows. American Tree Sparrow atsp Chipping Sparrow chsp Field Sparrowfisp
      • Moya
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        moyakinnealey
        Thank you for those helpful observations!!!
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      michelle.mastellotto
      Activity #1 2 Birds by shape Red-winged Blackbird and Common Grackle. Both of these birds are in the same family of Icterids, but, forage and move differently and are found in different habitats. Except this year, they are both in my backyard! The Grackle is and bigger and more elongated bird than the red-winged blackbird. It has a longer, slightly de-curved bill and longer tail. It also has longer legs meant for foraging on the ground.
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      jenjohns
      Activity 2:   Hello from north Florida.  I used Merlin to identify a black and white warbler and a downy woodpecker. Hairy woodpeckers also visit my feeders & was surprised that the Merlin app didn’t suggest them as an option when I entered colors (black, white, red) and a larger size. Any suggestions ?
    • Cathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      CathyBonnett
      IMG_0001 Activity 1: I have been trying to sort in my own mind how to tell these three shorebirds apart, so yesterday I went out with my camera to an empty beach at 7:00 in the morning.   Their body shape and coloring look pretty similar to my untrained eye, at least from a distance.  Their bills are distinctively different, the Whimbrel's is curved down, the Willit's is much shorter and the Godwit's is longer with an apricot colored part.  The Willit is easy to identify when it is flying because it has a distinctive white band on it's wings, the Whimbrel has a stripe on it's head. Now I just have to remember which is which.
    • Marlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      mg47831
      I tried to identify this small bird feeding from my finch food bag feeder this week. It is larger than the typical finches that feed there, so was curious. I assumed it is a sparrow of some type, but not sure which type. I used the Merlin app and it came up with two different possible matches when I used two different pictures. Either the Harris's Sparrow, which typically is found further north in Canada I think, or the Fox Sparrow. I am in Northeast Wisconsin.  Any other ideas? 20200428_073630[1]
      • Carole
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        Tasha1
        Hi Marlene,   I believe that might be a female Purple Finch on your feeder.  I'm saying that because I see a streaked belly (brown & white) and white eye stripe.  The range for Purple Finches is correct for NE Wisconsin (year round). Thanks.  Hope this helps, Carole Carole Swann
      • Marlene
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        mg47831

        @Carole Thanks Carole. Great to know. We do have many different types of finches here. We have seen purple finches, so that make sense. Still waiting for the Indigo Buntings to come in..

      • Rick
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        rkhalvor
        Could it be the female rose breasted grossbeak?
    • Jody
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      BookJody
      Activity 3:  Today, May 1 in Greenwood Village, Colorado (suburb of Denver) I saw two white-crowned sparrows foraging for food in the grass beneath bird feeders containing black oil sunflower seeds.  I used Merlin for a positive ID.  Many Robins were searching the grass for worms.    (Can they hear the worms underground?!  How do they know they are there?)  Again, I used Merlin to determine male and female Robins.  Black-capped chickadees were eating from the sunflower seeds and the suet.  Enjoyed lots more bird action in the backyard today but I chose to profile those 3 food-finding activities.
    • Charlotte
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Cnemeth
      A rose breasted grosbeak appeared on my feeder today here in north New Jersey. This is one of my favorite spring visitors who was very content to dine on some sunflower seeds.
    • Charlotte
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Cnemeth
      20200501_123310
    • Nicole
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      rosie2020
      I live in Westchester County, NY. We have had a lot of rain lately. I have especially enjoyed watching the robins this spring- it brings me comfort to see them. They seem to have a spring in their step and work tirelessly to find their worm. They are plentiful in our area and in the much of North America. Their coloring, body shape and behavior (hopping around on the ground) make them pretty easy to id. DSCN3304
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      LauraBea
      It would be interesting and helpful if classmates posting here also included their location.
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      KaraElizabeth
      Activity #4 My Favourite Bird The Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, has a slender, slightly downcurved bill with small wings.  They're bright emerald green on their back and crown with a white belly.  The males have the ruby throat. They live in open woodland, forest edges, grasslands, parks and, hopefully, my backyard this summer. I have only seen females in my garden,  but I'm optimistic that I will see the male this year.  Southern Ontario has had an unseasonably cool and windy April, but warmer temperatures are coming our way and I have my feeders out in anticipation.
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      KaraElizabeth
      Activity 2- Three birds with the same colour, birds that are orange and black Bullock's Oriole- Bright orange, black back, large white wing patch. Orange face with a black line through the eye and a black throat Blackburnian Warbler- vivid orange on face and throat, triangular facial pattern of black Black-headed Grosbeak- rich orange cinnamon colour, with a black head and black and white wings
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      tummychair14
      Activity 4: One of my favorite birds is the Baltimore Oriole who is visiting my oriole feeder now.  He is a medium sized bird with a black head, orange chest, and bright white wing bars. I put out my “jelly” feeder to attract them.  Last year I saw both males and females aplenty.  My primary home is in Michigan, but since I winter in south Texas, I see the orioles first there—and not just Baltimores. We see Altamira, Bullocks, Hooded, and Orchard varieties.  They love fruit.
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      KaraElizabeth
      Activity 1- Bird ID by Shape American Robin- large, round body, long legs and a fairly long tail IMG_5569 Goldfinch- sparrow sized or smaller, small head, long wings, short notched tail, small conical beak IMG_0028
    • candy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      cfshanks
      Activity 3. 3 birds searching for food.  Here in TX today, IIMG_3759 saw a Black Crested Titmouse at the feeder taking one seed at a time and flying back to the tree to eat it (I guess) and going back and forth many times.  A cardinal ate at the feeder and also foraged on the ground below the feeder for seeds.  In Iowa, I watched Bald Eagles  fishing in the Mississippi, diving low towards the water with their talons out and catching the fish in flight flying away with the fish in its talons.  Activity 4.  Favorite bird-Northern Cardinal.  Id'ed by its size and shape (larger than a robin with a distinctive crest), color pattern and markings ( the black around its eyes contrasting wit the red is so pretty), sounds (today, the female was chirping just like the Merlin app example; They also often sing more elaborate songs.)  I love the Merlin app having so many examples of each bird's songs.  It really helps me learn them!
    • candy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      cfshanks
      IMG_3785 Activity 1.  2 birds of different shape.  At my feeder today I saw a female cardinal with the characteristic crest on her head.  She had barely noticeable red on her wings and tail.  Also, a house sparrow with the small size, no tuft or crest.  Sparrows seem to usual but he was very pretty with his intricate wing colorings!  Activity 2.  3 birds-same color on diff parts of body .  My color is black:  Purple Martins-Identifiable with the forked tail and shape of beak  The habitat/behavior of using a raised martin house.  House Sparrow (again)-identified by his color pattern, behavior at the feeder and size and shape.  Great Blue Heron-identified by his habitat on the water and color pattern.  I identified all through Merlin.  What a great app!!  IMG_3728
    • Jerzy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      jujusk
      Recently I have been watching a lot common grackles and red wing black birds. Both seem to hanging around together in some areas (as well as at the Cornell feeder).  Their shape differences are not very pronounced so it was useful to hone in on those. European sparling also joins the two species and Colours help to tell them apart - yellow bill and spots on the sparking, red and yellow stripe on the male red wing and Metalic blue head and brownish body on grackles. Northern Cardinal was the first bird that I could ID by shape, colour and sound.  With time I got to appreciate the female cardinal for her very diverse colour: Brown, yellow and red/orange.  Typically she is hiding in lower branches while the male is easy to hear and spot. Telling the difference between sharp shinned and Cooper’s hawks gives me grief. Apparently not only me - late in 2018 I photographed one in my yard.  Trying to report it properly on e-bird I first sent the picture to the local expert who vets submissions. He concluded that it was Sharp shinned. Unfortunately after I submitted my report I was told by a different “vetter” that it was Cooper’s hawk.  Fun. Since I started using Merlin I had no problems.
    • Jill
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      jluccaHR
      IMG_0153