Become a Bird Detective by Studying Behavior Clues

When identifying a bird, how it acts can often lead to a quicker identification than its color or shape.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote!

Imagine — you’ve found your way to a marsh, a forest, or other natural habitat — and you’ve spotted an unfamiliar bird. How do you figure out what it is? Apart from the color and size of the bird, what do you look for?

 A bird’s behavior offers many clues. You’ll see flycatchers fly-catch, darting out from a branch to catch a bug in the air. And warblers warble,  although sometimes it’s hard to catch them in the act.

To distinguish one bird from a similar one, watch what the bird does, and, how it moves. Does it flick its wings? Bob up and down? Flip its tail? A field guide usually mentions these behaviors, and watching for them can help you determine which bird is which. Is the bird feeding on the ground or high in a tree? Does it walk or hop? These distinctive actions give a bird personality.

Watching birds is a bit like detective work. Gather enough clues, and you’ll solve the mystery. 

You’ll find all kinds of resources for learning about birds, when you visit our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Mary McCann.



Written by Ellen Blackstone

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Producer: John Kessler

Narrator: Mary McCann

Ambient track recorded by C. Peterson

Birdwatcher, Chris Altwegg

Calls of the Red-breasted Nuthatch (new) and Yellow-rumped Warbler provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York recorded by G.A. Keller. Olive-sided Flycatcher by T.G. Sander.

© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org     March 2017    

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