There’s a Bird in My Yard, What Kind of Bird Is It?

There’s a bird in my yard!  How can I find out what kind of bird it is?

woodpecker by AudubonFour key features to identify birds are: size and shape; color pattern; behavior; habitat.

By looking at the bird’s size and shape, we can get an idea of what family it belongs to.  Does the bird have a long or short bill, thin or stout?  Is the bird smaller than a robin or as big as a crow?

Colors and patterns of birds can include wing markings, bars across the face, or white-tipped tail feathers.

What is the bird’s behavior?  Does it walk on the ground, or appear to be climbing a tree, or fly in a swooping arc?

Habitat of the bird can include trees, meadow or brush land, or the beach.

The All About Birds website has a bird identification page and there are some wonderful apps such as Merlin Bird ID which can help in identification.  The Merlin app asks a series of questions and then gives you a list of possible birds you may be seeing.

A fun way to learn about the varieties of birds you are likely to see in Seattle, is to go on a Bird Walk with a Seattle Audubon Society group.  Bird photographer Joe Sweeney and other volunteers lead Neighborhood Bird Walks in parks and natural areas around Seattle.

Golden-crowned Kinglet by Gregg Thompson via BirdNote

Golden-crowned Kinglet photographed by Gregg Thompson

About Wedgwood in Seattle History

Valarie is a volunteer writer of neighborhood history in Seattle.
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14 Responses to There’s a Bird in My Yard, What Kind of Bird Is It?

  1. Seattle Park Lover says:

    I have the Audubon Guide to North American Birds app on my tablet. It works in much the same way the book is set up. The birds are arranged by general types like ducks, gulls, perching birds, etc. so you don’t need to know anything before finding the right part of the book to look in. I love that system because it’s fairly idiot proof. The app has the advantage of letting you add some details like region, season, and color to narrow down your search. It also has more photos than the book. I swear by it for any bird novice, so mentioning in case your other readers are interested.

  2. We went old school have got a book of back yard birds in puget sound! works great!

  3. Leave it to you to go “old school,” Tony! And maybe your book comes with a clip to attach to bicycle handlebars.

  4. I’ve thought about tossing it in a bag a time or two to take with me!

  5. And then you would crash and burn while consulting the book.

  6. There you will be proud of me 🙂 I always stop whether it is book, phone or camera (except the gopro) I crash enough without getting cocky! 🙂

  7. wildninja says:

    Your post’s title cracked me up because it reminded me of a phone call I took when I worked at a police department. There was a large bird in a woman’s fireplace and she was miles out of our jurisdiction. I was trying to walk her through how to open the door and capture the bird. I asked what kind of bird it was and she said, “it’s a duck.” Then she said, “it’s a female duck.” I asked how she knew it was a female duck and she replied, “Because it has a different bill than a male duck.” Soooo hard to keep a straight face… we all do funny things in emergencies.

  8. I am glad you caught the “panic mode” that I was trying to convey in the title of my blog post! Arghh! a bird!! what is it!

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