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Tips & Guides: Top 3 Tips On How To Identify Birds Correctly | Neil Hermes

Birdwatching on it’s own is a fun activity that has several benefits for one’s wellbeing. However, being able to identify the bird species you’ve spotted will make you feel more successful and fulfillled.

This is especially important when you’re travelling or spending the holidays in a different region or country where different sets of bird species reside, or if you’re a beginner birdwatcher trying to learn about the different bird species that frequent your area. In this article, I will give you my top three tips on how to identify the birds you observe.


Tip #1: Notice what the bird is doing

Try to ask questions like, “Is it in a forest or a grassland?”, “Is it feeding on the ground or feeding from flowers?”. These simple observations, coupled with some research or a good view or photo of the bird is a good indication to what the species might be.

Remember that there are over 11,000 bird species in the world. Without the specifics, it will be much more challenging to identify them.


Tip #2: Reference the bird against a species that you are already familiar with

Although the exact size is difficult to tell when you’re on the field, it can be helpful to reference the bird size in comparison to species you are already familiar with. For example, you can reference the bird as being the same size as a duck or a magpie.

Simply doing this can narrow down your options quickly. And the more birds you get to observe and know about, it won’t be long your judgment of a bird’s size is automatic.

Tip #3: Notice and identify certain features of the bird

Whether it’d be the colours of the bird you’re observing, or specific features like the crest, wings, or beak. 

List down both the general and specific observations that you’ve noticed, and draw a little sketch of what you see. It does not have to be detailed or elaborate. Rather, just an aid or memoir for you to remember when you go to the field. 


Bonus Tip: The Trick With Field Guides

There are various types of field guides, categorised by specific locations. If the location you’re at happens to have a few field guides already written, then there is a big possibility the bird you saw in that location is already in the guide. 

This circles back to the importance of listing everything you observe. So if you access the guides later on after your trip, it can sort of confirm what you’ve seen, and get you a step closer to identifying that exact specie. 

That concludes my top three tips on identifying birds correctly. If you are an avid birdwatcher like I am, or just getting started on your birdwatching journey, visit to book one of my upcoming birdwatching safaris, and subscribe to the Neil Hermes Youtube channel for more tips and guides.

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