Before you judge a bird by its color, use these eight clues to guide you.
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.
These black birds may belong to the same family and look similar in some ways, but several distinctive traits help set them apart.
Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings look very similar and are more likely to intermingle in the colder months. Here’s how to tell them apart.
Telling the two apart can be tough, but some clues lie in how they fly and where they sleep.
The six flavors of junco were long considered separate species. Recent science shows that they instead boldly exhibit evolution in real time.
Some clues to help distinguish between these two often-confused finches.
A close look at these two doppelgängers shows some key contrasts in markings and song.
Don’t let this ID cook your goose. Here are a few tips to help you solve the puzzle.
It’s a challenging ID, but head shape can take you a long way.
These are the best clues to help you know which ‘butcherbird’ is which.
Study the finer details of migrating warblers with our handy photo guide.
The differences are subtle, but shape and size can help in a big way.
When hawks and falcons stream across the sky in large numbers, you need a distinct set of birding skills to tell them apart.
They're one of the most familiar raptor species in North America, but they can still be tricky to ID.
First, break them down into groups. Then you can start picking out the finer details like size and flight.
In its youth, our national symbol sports brown feathers on its head—making it easily confused with its rarer, golden cousin.
Birdist Rule #71: Figure Out What Kind Of Chickadees You’ve Got
Uh, wait … there’s more than one kind?
(And creep your friends out while you're at it.)
They are not easy, but they are worth it. Probably.
And how to find them.
Identifying flycatchers can be unbelievably frustrating, so start off easy.
Beware: We have three species, and two of them can be really confusing.
The underside is what you spend the most time looking at, after all.
Turn your adventures into an heirloom.
Mistakes happen to the best of us. Here's how to save face.
Learn How to Identify Birds by Ear
A mix of two different species, these birds trick experts and novices alike.
As the seasons change, so do birds' feathers. A birder should be prepared.
Not all white birds are albino, and not all albino birds are white.
Take limits require rapid ID of fast-flying birds—a useful skill for any birder. One waterfowler breaks down how she does it.
And more importantly, can you add it to your life list?
All ID Stories
Dark-eyed Juncos, Backyard Gems, Come in a Dazzling Array of Colors
Why You Should Start Searching for Rusty Blackbirds
Get Audubon in Your Inbox
Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news.