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Improving your identification skills is part of the fun of birding. The information in this section will be useful for both the beginner to advanced intermediate level birders.

basics of bird identification bird id challenges
bird study guide comparisons


Improving Your Identification Skills

1. Visit the ID Basics section.

2. The ID Challenges section has information on common birds that can be difficult to identify.

3. If you are a beginner, visit our state birding information section. You’ll find information for bird clubs, birding locations and the Nifty Fifty online Bird Guides for your state.

4. Bird Families – Study Guides – A good approach to improving your identifcation skills is to study small groups of birds, as opposed to taking on a field guide with thousands of images.
We are building special Study Guides dedicated to different groups of birds. Each Study Guide will feature multiple images of each species as well as comparison images.
Thirty such Study Guides are currently planned. Two guides are now complete (Egrets and Waterfowl), we will be adding new guides at the rate of one every 1-3 months     –  Go to the Study Guides

5. Apps and eBooks. Our apps and eBooks often correspond to the online sections noted above and offer opportunities for study on mobile platforms.


Other Birders

Your best source of information is other birders.

Spend time in the field. Local or regional field trips are offered by many different organizations. Here are a few sources.

  • local Audubon Societies
  • bird clubs
  • bird specialty stores
  • state and national wildlife refuges and parks
  • state ornithological society

New birders are always welcome to these groups, so don’t be shy.

In This Category

7 Owls In Maine: The Residents Of The Pine Tree State

Oklahoma Owls – 9 Species And Their Habits & Habitats

Blackbird (Icteridae) Family – What Do We Know About Them?

Is Minnesota An Owl Paradise? 10+ Species You Can See

36 Sparrows In The U.S. & How To Identify Them

8 Owl Species Found In Iowa [Field Guide]

14 Owls In Oregon – Every Species You Can See

8 Owls In Tennessee: From Common To Rarest Species

Owls In South Carolina – 6 Species (Incl. The Snowy Owl)

8 Owls In Massachusetts – The Rare & Not So Rare Species

Owls In Maryland – 8 Owl Species & How To Find Them

8 Owls In Indiana – Identification & When To See Them

11 Types of Doves In The U.S. – Species, Identification & More

Owls In Illinois – 8 Species You Can See

Owls In Missouri – 9 Owl Species & Their Habits

The Truth Behind It: Can You Have An Owl As A Pet?

Tit Family Rundown: Tits, Chickadees & Titmice

Finch Species In The United States – 17 Native Finches

Answering Your Questions: Do Owls Eat Cats?

Types of Woodpeckers Found in the United States [23 Species]

What Do Owls Eat? A Sneak Peek To The Diet Of Owls

Comparing The Two: Are Egrets And Herons Related?

Blue Grosbeak vs Indigo Bunting – Are There Any Differences?

Do Owls Live In Wisconsin? 11 Species You Can See in WI

13 Owl Species You Can See In Arizona (Common & Rare)

Are There Any Owls Living In California? Most Common Species & How To Identify Them

Do Owls Live in Virginia? [Most Common Species You Can See]

14 Common & Rare Owls You Can See In Colorado [The Full List]

16 Types of Hummingbirds in the U.S. (That You Can Spot!)

Eagle vs Hawk vs Falcon – What are the Differences And Similarities?

Cooper’s Hawk vs Sharp-Shinned Hawk – How to Tell Them Apart?

Baby Owl – From Hatching to Adulthood

Owls in Ohio (12 Species That You Can See)

Red-tailed Hawk vs Red-shouldered Hawk – How Similar Are They?

The 12 Common and Rare Owls in Michigan (That You Can See)

The 17 Owls in Texas (Commonly Seen & Rare Birds)

The 11 Owls in Georgia That You Can See (5 Common & 4 Rare)

11 Owls in Florida That You Can Actually See (If You’re Lucky)

Boobie Family – How to Spot & Identify Them

Types of Falcons (All 6) | Field Guide For Identification

Turkey vs Chicken – What Are The Differences?

Nightjar Family – How to Spot & Identify Them

Osprey vs Eagle – What Are The Differences?

Snowy Owl

Downy vs Hairy Woodpecker – How Similar Are They?

House Finch vs Purple Finch? Here’s How to Tell Them Apart

Identifying All 23 Types of Owls in U.S (With Photos)

Blackbird vs Crow – What Are The Differences?

Bluebird vs Blue Jay – How Different Are They?

Falcon vs Eagle – The Main Differences

Falcon vs Hawk – Are These Two Similar In Some Sense?

Dove vs Pigeon – What Are The Differences?

All About Owl Legs. Strictly Useful Information

Swan vs Goose – How Similar Are These Waterfowl Species?

Goose vs Duck – What Are The Differences?

Grackle Vs Crow – What Are The Differences?

Raven or Crow? What Are The 9 Main Differences and Similarities?

Emu vs Ostrich – Main Differences Between The Two Flightless Birds

Ross’s Goose

Ring-necked Duck

Redhead (Duck)

Red-throated Loon

Red-necked Grebe

Red-breasted Merganser

Pied-billed Grebe

Pacific Loon

Northern Shoveler

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Pintail

Northern Hawk Owl

Mottled Duck

Mallard (Duck)

Long-tailed Duck

Long-eared Owl

Lesser Scaup

Least Grebe

King Eider

Horned Grebe (Identification with Photos)

Hooded Merganser

Harlequin Duck

Green-winged Teal

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater Scaup

Great Horned Owl

Great Gray Owl

Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Flammulated Owl

Emperor Goose

Elf Owl

Eastern Screech-Owl

Eared Grebe

Common Merganser

Common Loon

Common Goldeneye

Common Eider

Short-eared Owl

Clark’s Grebe

Snow Goose

Cinnamon Teal

Spotted Owl

Surf Scoter


Canada Goose

Cackling Goose

Burrowing Owl


Brant (Bird)

Boreal Owl

Western Grebe

Western Meadowlark

Western Screech-Owl

White-winged Scoter

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Barrow’s Goldeneye

Barn Owl

American Wigeon (Male and Female Identification) + Lots of Photos

American Black Duck

Top 15 Owl Facts Everyone Must Know!

Comparisons: Dunlin and Stilt Sandpiper

Comparison of Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs

Comparison of Orange-crowned and Tennessee Warbler

Tufted Duck

All Three Types of Swans in United States (Identification)

Comparison of Mallard VS. Black Duck VS. Mottled Ducks

Comparison of Lesser and Greater Scaup

Steller’s Eider Identification

Spectacled Eider

Blue-winged Teal Identification

Comparing Coot vs Moorhen vs Gallinule – Differences and Similarities

Pelicans In The United States: Species & Identification Tips

Stiff-tailed Ducks (Birdzilla Center for Bird Identification)

Wood Stork Or Roseate Spoonbill?

Juvenile Black-Crowned Night-Heron vs. Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron

Bittern Species You Can See In The U.S. [ID Guide]

Regularly Occurring Cranes of the United States

Types of Regularly Occurring Ibis of the United States

Regularly Occurring Night-Herons of the United States

Different Types of Herons in North America

5 Egret Species You Can See In The United States

18 Types of Hawks in the United States That You Can See

27 Types of Ducks in United States

Mourning Dove vs Eurasian Collared-Dove (Differences and Similarities)

Identification of Cassin’s, House and Purple Finches

ABC’s of Bird Identification – Color, Markings and Patterns

ABC’s of Bird Identification – Size

ABC’s of Bird Identification – Shape

ABC’s of Bird Identification – Habitat

ABC’s of Bird Identification – Behavior

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