Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bird ID Help Groups

Many people are stuck when it comes to finding new ways to learn how to identify birds other then looking at field guides and actually being out in the field birding. I have heard many people say that while they have learned a lot from field guides, the pictures or drawings in the guides just don’t match up to what they are seeing in the field. While I do believe that getting out in the field and learning by experience is the best way to learn about birds, and most anything else for that matter, I have recently found a new way to learn without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

There are identification help groups on almost all bird forums where people post picture of birds that they are having difficulty identifying. These images come from all different skill levels and locations around the world and will provide a challenge for even the most skilled birders. By attempting to identify these birds, you will learn to distinguish between species in many different ways. You will also be able to get identification tips from many skilled birders that post to these groups. Remember that while the conversation will sometimes get heated most people are not out to hurt anyone’s feelings or to make you feel stupid and many people do not realize that what they are saying may lead you to feel that way. Just ignore the posts that are not helpful and focus on the people that are truly there to help you learn about birds.

I recommend checking out http://www.birdforum.net/, http://www.whatbird.com/, and http://www.surfbirds.com/ to get started.

Remember to have fun, because birds and birding are fun.

Here is a test to get you started. How many of the 7 species present can you identify? And if you want a real challenge how many of each species are pictured? This photo was taken at Little Estero Lagoon Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

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