A good friend of mine stated – Become familiar with silhouettes. I have also seen this written on several bird sites. It is so true.
Bird identifying skills come with time. Those skills and utilizing them can be VERY addictive. I have a love hate relationship with my hobby. =/ We all experience growing pains and fight the learning curve. Personally, I was a late bloomer with poor eyesight and it has slowed me only a little. (hint: I rely heavily on a camera and then compare later for identification). It is easy for a beginning bird watcher to feel overwhelmed at the start. I started adding up and I could barely name 25 birds this past June and those field guides seem crammed with look-a-likes and they are not arranged in alphabetical order or by color. Hopefully, this will help you where to begin. With me being so new, I am still experiencing your pain but I have surrounded my self with over a century worth of birding experience. Back in June, I counted 25 off the top of my head. As of October of the same year I had photo documentation of over 80. It’s getting there. Primarily located in Mineral Wells, Texas, Palo Pinto county and immediate areas.
Many birders focus specifically on field marks – To help you with the guides, start by learning groups. Learn general shape, color, activities, location and check time of year. Check your bird list and start with that group. Soon you will become quicker and quicker in narrowing your search. You will eventually utilize those field marks (diagnostics) for final confirmation. Four keys will quickly get you to the right group, so you know exactly what diagnostics to seek out. Size and shape, color pattern, behavior and habitat. With the above in mind, pull out a current field guide and hopefully the information above will make sense. You will learn to love eyebrows, eyerings, and wingbars. Tail length and habitats will soon be like comfort foods.
Check out BIRDING 101, it describes the birth of my passion for these flighty little creatures. I also discuss the few essentials necessary for getting started.
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