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

    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      NorthernMockingbird_8335 <p style="text-align: left;">Activity 1: Look for two birds you can tell apart by shape.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Northern Cardinal. American Robin.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Activity 2: Look for three different birds that have the same colour but on different parts of their body. Red.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"> Back of the head. Male Downy Woodpecker. Complete body. Male Northern Cardinal. Chevron shaped red feathers on the nape of the neck. Northern Flicker.</p>   <p style="text-align: left;">Activity 3: Searching for food.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"> Chickadee. Takes a seed from the feeder then flies into the burning bush or forsythia to eat it completely before returning to the feeder for another seed. White-breasted Nuthatch. Comes to the feeder, takes a seed and flies over to the white oak or the red oak to store it or eat it. White-throated Sparrow forages under the feeder and double scratches through the seeds on the ground. It never flies up to perch and eat on the feeder.</p>   <p style="text-align: left;">Activity 4: Describe your favourite bird.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The Northern Cardinal is too easy to identify, but it is a favourite to watch, especially when the male feeds the female. So I will describe a bird I found on a walk in the park that I had never seen before.The park is located on the shore of a lake. It was late in the day, about 5:30 and the sun was going down so the light wasn’t the best. A bird flew into a tree ahead. It had a long tail, a long pointy bill, 2 wing bars and some white patches on its wing. It was about the size of a Robin, but more slender in build. It did not sing. I took photographs of it in the waning light. I found it in my guide book. A Northern Mockingbird.</p>
    • Moe
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      • pileated woodpecker 3
    • Russ
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      #2500_9655500_0658500_7726Belted Kingfisher, Tree Swallow,and Bluejay
    • Russ
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Baltimore Oriole500_1396 House Finch500_2139
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 4: I don't know if it's my favorite bird, but the bushtit is one bird I had a hard time identifying just by color/pattern.  They are very plain and gray.  It took several sightings in different places before I realized what they were.  Now I can recognize them mostly by sound, size, and behavior.  They make a high pitched almost constant chirping sound.  They are very small and kind of round.  They flit about very quickly from tree to tree or bush to bush.  They often hang upside down from branches.  They usually travel in groups and move from one side of the yard or park to the other, following each other.  I live near Sacramento, CA. IMG_4521
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      1. Tufted Titmouse—small, has tuft on top of its head Mourning Dove—small head relative to body 2. Downy Woodpecker—black stripes on head, black wings with white stripes; red spot/line on back of head; white belly Northern Flicker—black stripe on cheek, black half moon on chest, black dots on chest, small black lines on back/wings; red line across back of neck/head; whitish/brownish chest Pileated Woodpecker—black wings, chest, tail; black and white stripes on face; top of head entirely red 3. Carolina Chickadee—flies to feeder, picks up one seed, takes it to tree and eats it, returns to feeder Mourning Dove—searches ground underneath feeder for dropped seeds American Goldfinch—hangs upright or sideways on thistle seed feeder 4. Eastern Bluebird
      • Blue head, wings, tail; reddish brown chest, white belly
      • Size is slightly larger than a sparrow; full, rounded belly
      • Not aggressive; politely waits for its turn at the feeder. Can be chased away by more aggressive birds.
    • Tracy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      IMG_9915 #1 - Northern Cardinal and Black-capped Chickadee #2 - 3 birds with similar colour (black/white) but in different body areas - Black-capped Chickadee, White breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker #3 - Chickadees flit rapidly on and off feeder and chase each other off. Nuthatch moves quickly down tree trunk, head first and is head-down on the feeder. Woodpecker settles on suet block for 5 minutes or so at a time and feeds from multiple angles #4 - White breasted nuthatch - size and shape similar to chickadee, no black throat or eyestripe, head down on tree trunk or feeder
    • Tisha
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 1:
      • Cardinal - has crest, long tail, large thick bill
      • Carolina Wren - small, round, stout, thin curved bill, long tail that is often pointing up
      Activity 2:
      • Downy Woodpecker - small red spot on back of head, white stripe down back, black wings with white spots, black and white stripes on face, white belly
      • Red Headed Woodpecker - completely red head white belly, white and black patched wings and back
      • Red Bellied Woodpecker - black and white striped back and wings, red neck stripe continues over head, white belly except for small slight red patch
      Activity 3:
      • White throated sparrow -  scratching ground for food
      • Northern flicker - probing ground with bill
      • Eastern Phoebe - sallying for insects from perch
      Activity 4: White Breasted Nuthatch:
      • Small bird, white breast, black capped, gray back/wings with black tips/highlights
      • Moves along trunk and branches of tree probing bark for food
      • Makes a squeaking almost honking type call; sounds kind of like a squeaker toy
    • Chloe
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Activity 1:
      • Canada Goose
      • Blue Heron
      Activity 2:
      • Mallard
      • Bufflehead
      • Northern Shoveler
      Activity 3:
      • American Crow: used their beaks to push away detritus
      • Mallard: dipped heads under water and tail feathers in the air
      • Bald Eagle: perched in tree with bare branches over water
      Activity 4:
      • Bufflehead: pair swimming together in a still stream in a wetland, black & white, smaller than a Mallard
    • Jamie
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      1. Using the Cornell bird cam, I saw some Goldfinches identified by their bright yellow bodies, black wings with white stripes, and short necks and bills. I also saw a hairy woodpecker, with its much longer body, very long bill, red spot on its crown, and distinctive black and white stripes on the face. 2.  Red: California towhee - has a splash of rust red on its rump, housefinch - has brighter red on head and breast, red-winged blackbird- bright red stripe on wings 3. skipping for now as it's dark out 4. Favorite bird - the Oak Titmouse.  In the smallest size category. Grey almost all over. Has a very short bill and distinctive crest. Tends to dwell in oak woodlands. Short, raspy call.
    • Alexandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      • Activity 1: Blue Jay vs. Downy Woodpecker- the Woodpecker is much smaller in size, the Blue Jay has a crest and much larger beak and legs.
      • Activity 2: Colors (black, grey, brown)1. Chickadee- black capped with white cheeks, black throat, brown belly, short stubby bill, large head 2. Red-breasted nuthatch- black head with white stripe above eye, white throat, brown/orange chest and belly 3. White-breasted nuthatch- White face black cap, blue-grey wings and back. Small spot of brown/orange on belly and undertail.
      • Activity 3:1. Downy Woodpecker- Went to trees and suet cakes, flew back to tree, scaled and came back. They have interrupted flight with gliding. 2.  Male Northern Cardinal- Goes to the feeder for seeds or will go to the ground and will peck. Will stay on the branches near the feeder and will look for the opportunity to get on. 3. Junco – Generally come in groups. Some will be on the ground and others will go to the feeder.  They scratch with both feet but I have also seen them just peck a the ground. Will be very territorial on the feeder and chase other birds, including their own flock off.
      • Activity 4: One of my favorites is a black-capped chickadee.- Size: larger than a finch, smaller than a robin - Shape: round body and head, short neck, very small beak - Color: black head with white cheeks and back of neck, brown chest and belly, grey and white back and wings - Habitat: northern united states, southern part of Canada through Alaska - Sounds: “chick a dee-dee-dee-dee” very high pitch squeaky voice, raspy at the end
    • Alice
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      • Activity 1:
        • Bluejay - Summer Tanager
      • Activity 2:
        • House Finch - Northern Cardinal
        • Chickadee - Black and White Warbler
        • Pine Warbler - Goldfinch
      • Activity 3:
        • Pine Warbler hopping from tree branch to tree branch
        • Red-bellied Woodpecker hopping from tree branch to tree branch
        • Bluejay took the easy way to find food by gathering nuts from the bird feeder
      • Activity 4:
        • Belted Kingfisher
          • Habitat
          • Sound
          • Color pattern and markings
    • Activity 2: An Anhinga, a Neotropic Cormorant and a Double Crested Cormorant are all birds that have black, white and yellow. The neotropic cormorant is the smallest of the three. The neotropic and double crested cormorants both have hooked beaks and can be told apart by the size and also the details of the orange-yellow skin around the bill and chin. The double crested cormorant has some orange-yellow skin in front of the eye and above the upper bill that is prominent and mush easier to notice than the very small amount that the neotropic cormorant has. The neotropic cormorant has a thin white line around the orange-yellow skin around the chin that looks like a forward titled V. The double crested cormorant does not have this thin line of white feathers. Both the neotropic and the double crested cormorant have blueish eyes during the breeding season, both birds are low diving fish hunters. The Anhinga has a lot more white on the wings and a straight bill that it uses to skewer prey. It hunts by staying submerged in water with the neck out of the water. All of these birds stand with their wings spread out to dry after a dive in the water. Neotropic Cormorant. 47B200A5-72D1-4251-8A2B-5D9A94DF4F2C
    • Sharon
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      IMG_2397 Enjoyed watching the Ontario bird cam! So I'm a very new inexperienced birder....but I think this is a male pine grosbeak...?
    • Jane
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      IMG_0133It seemed bigger when I saw it close, but seemed to have a short bill, so I I.D.'d as a Downy. But, could it be a female Hairy?
    • Angela
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      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.   Thraupis episcopus - tangara azuleja2 Thraupis episcopus (Blue gray Tanager), medium size range, blue grayish feathers on its wings, black eyes,  gray bill, undertail coverts are light gray
      • Cindy
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        super cool bird, thanks for sharing
    • Angela
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      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.   Spinus psaltria- Jilguero Menor 20sisonte tropicalP1100489   Birds with black color on different parts of their bodies. Using Merlin app, the IDs could be: Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) , Tropical Mocking bird (Mimus gilvus) Great Thrush (Turdus fuscater)
    • Angela
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      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.   humminbird 1hummingbird 2 These two hummingbirds, located near Bogota Colombia (Observatorio de Colibríes), have similar colors (olive green, brown) but different shape.  The first one seems smaller, has a shorter bill, rounder belly, and shorter wings, I did my best but could not be sure of the species of each one of them 😅
      • Ashley
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        I believe the top image is a buff tailed coronet.
    • Jeannette
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity 1.  The Blue Jay is a large-crested bird with a rounded tail.  The House Wren is a small bird with a flat head, oval body, and short wings. Activity 2.  The White-Breasted Nuthatch has a short tail, bluish-gray back and wings, a black cap, and a white breast.  The Black-Capped Chickadee has a short tail, bluish-gray back and wings, a black cap and chin with white cheeks and breast.  The Red-Breasted Nuthatch has a bluish-gray back and wings, a cinnamon breast with a black stripe through the eyes, and a black crown. Activity 3.  As I observed the birds in my backyard, I noted that Robins do not visit the feeder.  They enjoy searching for earthworms, insects, and berries.  The Mourning Doves search for seeds on the ground.  The House Sparrows search for seeds on the feeder and on the ground. Activity 4.  The American Goldfinch is one of my favorite birds.  The American Goldfinch is a small North American bird in the finch family.  They go through a significant change in plumage as the seasons change.  The adult males in spring and summer are bright yellow with black tails and foreheads, and black wings with white markings.  The females in spring and summer are yellowish-green with brownish-black wings with white markings.  In fall and winter, both males and females are olive-brown with dark brown wings with white markings.   The American Goldfinches love thistle and sunflower seeds.  Goldfinches are found in open areas like yards, weedy fields, and orchards.
    • Ross
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Noisey Miner Noisy Miner  Manorima melanocephala 24 - 27 Cm. (Australia) -  Activity 1: Medium sized, Pale Greyish face with black crown extending down through eye to link; Distinctive rich yellow beak and legs; Underparts pale grey with darker scallops on breast; Dark  leading edge on wing with brown- reddish steak
      • Cindy
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        great description
    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      IMG_2187Mourning Dove feeding babies, Summer 2021
    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      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: 23
      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
      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
      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.