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Identifying Song Birds. Ms. Slates. How can we identify song birds?. Make a list of all the ways!!. How do we Identify Song Birds?. 5 Ways to Identify Song Birds! Habitat Bird shape Field Marks (not just color) Behavior Songs and Calls.

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how can we identify song birds
How can we identify song birds?

Make a list of all the ways!!

how do we identify song birds
How do we Identify Song Birds?

5 Ways to Identify Song Birds!

  • Habitat
  • Bird shape
  • Field Marks (not just color)
  • Behavior
  • Songs and Calls
habitat different birds live in different places
Habitat- Different birds live in different places!
  • Birding by probability!
    • Sparrows like rusty hedges
      • Swamp-Swamp sparrow, woods-chipping sparrow, fence line- field sparrow
  • Other helpful hints!
    • Use range maps
    • Check the time of the year
    • Find out what your likely to see!
bird shape
Bird Shape
  • Become familiar with silhouettes
  • Judge by size
    • What sizes of birds can we compare?
  • Judge against birds in the same field of view?
  • Apply size and shape to parts of the bird

Eyebrow stripe (or superciliary, line over the eye)

  • Eyeline (line through the eye)
  • Whisker mark (also called mustache or malar stripe)
  • Throat patch
  • Color of upper and lower beak
  • Color of the lore (area between base of beak and eye)
  • Crown stripe (stripe in the midline of the head)
  • Eyering (ring of color around eye)
  • Presence or absence of crest
  • The color of the eye itself (iris) can also be very useful

Wingbars (stripes across the folded wing)

  • Wing patches (blocks of color on the wing)
  • Wing lining (the feathers covering the underside of the wing)
  • Primaries (the long flight feathers on the outer half of the wing)
  • Secondaries (the flight feathers on the inner half of the wing)
  • Speculum (the patch of colored secondaries that helps identify many ducks)
  • Wing tips
color pattern
Color Pattern
  • Focus on Light or Dark First!
  • Bold or Faint?
  • Outrageous Color
  • Posture
    • Horizontal vs. vertical
  • Movement
  • Flight Pattern
    • Roller-coaster
    • Strait path- fluttering wings
  • Feeding Style
  • Flocking
songs calls
Songs & Calls
  • This is tough!
  • Tells where the bird is and what it is
  • Watch and listen
  • Learn from an expert
  • Listen to recordings
  • Say it yourself
  • Listen for details



  • Pileated
  • Red-bellied
  • Red-headed
  • Downy
  • Hairy




blue jay
Blue Jay
  • Size & Shape

A large, bold songbird with a straight bill and triangular crest

  • Color Pattern

Bright, almost sparkling blue above, with a black necklace and gray-white underparts

  • Behavior

Inquisitively explores woodlands and yards, moves in long hops; piercing calls

  • Habitat

Forest edge, woodlands, urban and suburban parks and yards



  • White – throated
  • Fox
  • Chipping





  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
  • Purple Finch





  • Evening Grosbeak
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak


indigo bunting
Indigo Bunting
  • Summer bird
  • Forest edges and roadsides
  • Male dark blue, Female plain brown




  • House Wren
  • Carolina Wren – more red in color

White stripe by eye




  • Orchard
  • Baltimore
    • Summer months, look high in trees!



  • Male- Black, Female- Brown
  • Usually seen on the ground

Female vs. Male

brown thrasher
Brown Thrasher
  • Larger then thrushes
  • Stripes on stomach
  • Dense thickets/brush
  • Found in the United States and Canada year round
  • Probe in the grass for food


  • White Breasted Nuthatch
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown-headed Nuthatch



tufted titmouse
Tufted Titmouse
  • Found here year round
  • Large among the small birds
  • Often flock with chickadees
  • Known for their song
brown creeper
Brown Creeper
  • PA- Winter non breeding
  • Tiny woodland bird
  • Eat insects and spiders
chimney swift
Chimney Swift
  • PA- Summer for breeding
  • It spends a lot of time in flight
    • Long claws
  • Do nest on chimneys!
common grackle
Common Grackle
  • PA-Year-round
  • Long, lanky, long-legged
  • Appear black from a distance
  • Diet- Corn, garbage, ect.



  • Barn Swallow
  • Tree Swallow
  • Purple Martin


house sparrow
House Sparrow
  • Not related to other North American Sparrows
  • Chunkier, flatter chest, shorter tail
  • PA year-round
gray catbird
Gray Catbird
  • PA-Summer for breeding
  • Found in thickets and brush
  • Distinct call
northern mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird
  • Found in Pa year round
  • Wires, fences
  • Mimics other birds
northern cardinal
Northern Cardinal
  • Male and Female
  • Don’t migrate
  • Don’t molt in the winter
wood warbler
Wood Warbler


  • American Redstart
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Pine Warbler



bird feeder
Bird Feeder
  • Ground
  • Large Hopper
  • Large Tube Feeder
  • Nectar Feeder
  • Platform
  • Small Hopper
  • Small Tube Feeder
  • Suet Cage

Many species of birds, including sparrows and doves, prefer to feed on large, flat surfaces and may not visit any type of elevated feeder. Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows and many towhee species, for instance, will rarely land on a feeder, but they will readily eat fallen seed from the ground beneath your feeders.

large hopper
Large Hopper

A hopper feeder is a platform upon which walls and a roof are built, forming a “hopper” that protects seed against the weather. Large hoppers attract most species of feeder birds and will allow larger species, like doves and grackles to feed. If you would prefer to discourage these larger birds, try using a smaller hopper feeder.

large tube feeder
Large Tube Feeder

A tube feeder is a hollow cylinder, often made of plastic, with multiple feeding ports and perches. Tube feeders keep seed fairly dry. Feeders with short perches accommodate small birds such as finches but exclude larger birds such as grackles and jays. The size of the feeding ports varies as well, depending on the type of seed to be offered. Note that special (small) feeding ports are required for nyjer seed in order to prevent spillage.

nectar feeder
Nectar Feeder

Nectar feeders are specially made to dispense nectar through small holes. Choose a feeder that is easy to take apart and clean, because the feeder should be washed or run through the dishwasher frequently.


A platform feeder is any flat, raised surface onto which bird food is spread. The platform should have plenty of drainage holes to prevent water accumulation. A platform with a roof will help keep seeds dry. Trays attract most species of feeder birds. Placed near the ground, they are most likely to attract juncos, doves, and sparrows.

small hopper
Small Hopper

A hopper feeder is a platform upon which walls and a roof are built, forming a “hopper” that protects seed against the weather. Small hoppers will attract smaller birds while preventing larger species, like grackles, from comfortably perching and monopolizing the feeder.

small tube feeder
Small Tube Feeder

A tube feeder is a hollow cylinder, often made of plastic, with multiple feeding ports and perches. Tube feeders keep seed fairly dry. Feeders with short perches accommodate small birds such as finches but exclude larger birds such as grackles and jays.

suet cage
Suet Cage
  • Suet or suet mixes can be placed in an onion bag or a specially made cage. Suet also can be tied to trees or smeared into knotholes. Cages that are only open at the bottom tend to be starling-resistant but allow woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees to feed by clinging upside down.
food types
Food Types
  • Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Mealworms
  • Millet
  • Milo
  • Nyjer
  • Oats
  • Peanut Hearts
  • Safflower
  • Suet
  • Sugar water
hulled sunflower seeds
Hulled Sunflower Seeds
  • Sunflower seeds with the shell removed
  • “no mess” seeds
  • Will attract any bird that like sunflower seeds

Larvae of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, and they provide a high protein treat for many birds. Birds like chickadees, titmice, wrens, and nuthatches relish this food and mealworms are one of the only food items that reliably attract bluebirds.

sunflower seeds
Sunflower Seeds
  • The most common type of seed offered at feeders in North America is black-oil sunflower seed. This small sunflower seed is high in energy and has thin shells, making it the preferred food item for a wide variety of birds. Black-oil sunflower is among the favorite feeder foods of cardinals, chickadees, finches, and sparrows.
cracked corn
Cracked Corn

Whole corn is a favorite of Wild Turkeys and ducks, while cracked corn will attract doves, quail, and sparrows. To attract these birds, try mixing cracked corn with millet and feeding a scoopful on the ground or a platform feeder.

  • Various fruits can prove quite attractive to many species of birds. Oranges cut in half will often attract orioles which will sip the juice and eat the flesh of the orange. Grapes and raisins are a favorite of many fruit-eating birds. Mockingbirds, catbirds, bluebirds, robins, and waxwings are all species that are likely to feed upon fruit. Many species will also be attracted to the dried seeds of fruits like pumpkins or apples
  • A small, round grain, millet is commonly found in seed mixes. Millet is a favored food of many smaller, ground foraging birds. A handful of millet sprinkled on the ground will keep your juncos and sparrows happy.
  • A reddish-colored, round grain, milo is often a major component of inexpensive seed mixes. Unfortunately, it is not a favorite of most birds, and the seed often goes to waste. Western birds tend to consume milo more than eastern birds. In the east, it is best to avoid mixes with large amounts of milo.
  • Often called "thistle" seed, nyjer is not related to North American thistle plant native to Africa. This imported seed has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely due to its ability to attract finches including American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, and Common Redpoll. Because nyjer seed is so small it requires a special feeder with very small feeding ports.
  • Oats grown for cereal or livestock feed are also eaten by many species of birds. This grain is rarely found in modern bird seed mixes, but you can try offering oats on a platform feeder or in a hopper. Species most likely to be attracted to oats include doves and quail.
peanut hearts
Peanut Hearts
  • Peanut hearts for bird feeding are small pieces of peanuts without the shells that are best offered in a small hopper or on a platform feeder. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and jays are most likely to take advantage of this food. Peanuts are high in energy and protein for your birds.
  • They are not true nuts but are actually legumes--and many birds love them! You can offer peanuts shelled or in the shell. Larger birds like jays may grab several peanuts at a time and fly off to hide them for later consumption. Smaller birds like chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice will have more success feeding on shelled peanuts.