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Old 07 February 2016, 07:14 PM
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Cervus Cervus is offline
 
Join Date: 21 October 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 21,203
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Originally Posted by Mouse View Post
I keep trying to learn about birds, but bird books have large pictures of them all perfectly still, which doesn't do me much good because birds in real life hop around and fly instead of staying perfectly still so I can ID them. Ugh..didn't nature get the memo that she exists to serve me?
Your local Audubon society should have free field trips that are open to the public; check their website. The best way to learn to ID birds is to learn their movements, their calls, their migration patterns, and their preferred habitats and food sources. Some species have a distinct way of bobbing their tails, others might bob their heads or wag their tails in a certain way when they're foraging. Knowing these distinctive movements can make it easy to ID similar-looking or fast-moving species.

So it's best, when you're new to birding, to join field trips and talk to other birders and wildlife photographers. Ask them for help IDing species; I've never known anyone who didn't help a complete stranger who wanted to know "What bird is that?" and "How can you tell it apart from the others?"

And don't feel bad; I studied ornithology and I was required to learn hundreds of bird IDs for my classes. It can be tough; I've been a birder for 10 years, and I still can't ID certain shorebirds or gulls who aren't in breeding plumage.

(I learned the term LBJs [little brown jobs] to describe difficult sparrows; unidentifiable shorebirds are "peeps", and it's not uncommon for birders to write "Duck sp." on their list to indicate that they saw some ducks but couldn't ID them to genus level, let alone species.)