How can you identify these birds when you are driving by? Photo by Lewis Ulrey/Macaulay Library.

Quickly identifying a mystery bird requires a familiarity with size & shape, verisimilitude pattern, policies and habitat. These are the vital four keys of bird identification, and they can make it possible to identify a bird with just the briefest of sightings. Weve got several ways to help you practice:

  • Visit our Building Skills pages for a step by step introduction to each of the four keys of identification.
  • Watch our self-ruling Inside Birding videos and let expert birders Chris Wood and Jessie Barry demonstrate the preferably points of the four keys for you.
  • Check out our Merlin Bird ID app, a helpful tool to identify birds while on the go.
  • It moreover helps to alimony a running list in your throne of which birds are most likely in your location and time of year. Our eBird project is unconfined for thatuse the Bar Charts function or explore recent sightings using the maps–and check out other tools, like exploring hotspots near you.
  • If you want to delve deeper, trammels out our affordable Bird Academy courses, filled with info, tips, and interactive quizzes and games.

Now: how do you put your knowledge into practice? Lets imagine its early October, and you are on the road somewhere outside Chicago. From the passengers seat you see a bird perched on a telephone wire. You note: Robin-sized, buffy color, long tail, round body, small head. Your marvel is piqued, but the moment has passed.

The mystery birds on a wire are Mourning Doves. Photo by Susan Szeszol/Macaulay Library.

First, lets hoke that running list of birds likely to be on a telephone wire in the Midwest: American Kestrel, European Starling, Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, various swallows. these are the usual suspects.

Based on the size we can eliminate the larger pigeon, and the smaller House Finch and swallows. The long tail rules out starling, bluebird and robin. The verisimilitude is wrong for a blackbird. That leaves American Kestrel and Mourning Dove. You noted the soul was round and the throne small (like a dove) rather than slender and blocky headed (like a falcon). Though you may not be worldly-wise to be 100 percent certain, Mourning Dove is looking increasingly and increasingly likely.

The reality is, when identifying a bird from a moving vehicle you may never be 100% unrepealable what you are looking at. And please remember to do your road birding from the passengers seat, letting the suburbanite concentrate on the road. By applying these vital identification skills you can make a very well-educated guess. Good luck!