Identifying Birds

Figure out what you're looking at with these tips and tricks.
Red-headed Woodpecker. Photo: Vance Solseth/Audubon Photography Awards

Bird ID is like solving a puzzle.

A Northern Cardinal's crimson feathers, an American Robin's round shape, a White-breasted Nuthatch's acrobatics—these traits are the pieces that will help you put together a successful ID. And the longer you observe a bird, the more pieces you'll pick up. But as even the most experienced birders know, sometimes you need further assistance. Or maybe you are just looking for a quick confirmation. Below you'll find a range of beginner and advanced ID tips and advice. Good luck, and happy identifying! 


Quick ID Guides

Curious about a bird you see on the regular? You can likely find it below. 

Get to Know These 20 Common Birds
What's That Bird at Your Suet Feeder?
More Comparison Tips
How to Tell a Raven From a Crow
How to Tell a Raven From a Crow

These black birds may belong to the same family and look similar in some ways, but several distinctive traits help set them apart.

More Raptor ID Tips
All Birdist ID Advice
Featured Species: Know Your Nuthatches
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Advanced ID and Tips

All ID Stories

Remember that Audubon depends on your support to do the conservation work that we do.
Dark-eyed Juncos, Backyard Gems, Come in a Dazzling Array of Colors
March 01, 2019 — The six flavors of junco were long considered separate species. Recent science shows that they instead boldly exhibit evolution in real time.
Is That a Swallow or a Swift?
September 25, 2018 — Telling the two apart can be tough, but some clues lie in how they fly and where they sleep.
Is That Golden Eagle Actually a Bald Eagle?
July 03, 2018 — In its youth, our national symbol sports brown feathers on its head—making it easily confused with its rarer, golden cousin.
Why You Should Start Searching for Rusty Blackbirds
February 16, 2018 — Aside from helping to boost your blackbird appreciation, spotting this declining species can also aid in conservation efforts.