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.
How to Tell Vireos From Warblers, Flycatchers, and Kinglets
June 28, 2017 — Before you start identifying vireos, you need to stop confusing them with other similar families of songbirds.
Learn to Tell a Cackling Goose From a Canada Goose
March 30, 2017 — Don’t let this ID cook your goose. Here are a few tips to help you solve the puzzle.
The Biggest Differences Between Song and Savannah Sparrows
March 03, 2017 — A close look at these two doppelgängers shows some key contrasts in markings and song.
Greater or Lesser Scaup? Here Are the Biggest Differences Between the Two
January 19, 2017 — It’s a challenging ID, but head shape can take you a long way.