The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is almost here; February 17-20, 2012. Participation is easy, fun and free.
As a GBBC participant, you may see birds you don’t know. To identify lesser-known birds, practice answering the following questions, looking at a bird from the top down. Use the numbers on the Song Sparrow pictured above for practice.
Look at the bird’s overall size, shape and posture. Is it the size of something familiar like a sparrow, robin or crow?
2. Head Markings
Does the bird have a colorful or striped cap, also known as a crown? Is there a stripe above or through the eye; does it have an eye ring or “spectacles?” Look for cheek patches or a mustache. Is there a white throat patch?
3. Body Markings
What are the overall back, breast and belly colors? What’s on the chest: a patch, spots, streaks or is it clear? Are the flanks (sides of body just below the wings) clear or streaked? Is there a white or yellow rump patch?
4. Wing Markings
Are the wings a different color than the body? Are there one or two wing bars (solid lines of color) or spots?
5. Tail Shape and Markings
Is the tail long or short compared to the body? Is it forked, squared, pointed or another shape? Are there certain colors or vertical or horizontal stripes?
Using these tips will help you quickly gather all the clues you need to positively identify birds during GBBC.
So, grab your favorite bird identification guide and invite a friend to join you in the fun of counting the birds for science.
Learn how GBBC helps scientists, especially this year, by clicking here. Learn all the details of how to participate at www.birdcount.org.
Where will you be counting the birds and who will be joining you for this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count?