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ABC’s of Bird Identification – Behavior


A bird’s behavior can often be a clue to its identity. Some species are famous for flicking their tail ( Eastern Phoebe) while another may be well-known for bobbing up and down (Spotted Sandpiper). Study the birds you see and watch for behavioral patterns in the way the bird feeds, walks/hops or flies.

Black Skimmer

Black Skimmers have a unique feeding behavior that makes this species a cinch to identify. Note the lower bill is much longer than the top bill.

long-billed dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitchers feed by probing in shallow water and mud. Other species feed by picking food off the surface.

America Robin

American Robins run along the ground. Other species hop instead of walk.

eastern towhee

The Eastern Towhee has a two-footed backward hop.


Reddish Egrets, and other egret species, will spread their wings to reduce reflections off the water, making it easier for them to see their prey. Reddish Egrets are famous for their seemingly drunken movements as they search for a meal.


Other Identification Types:

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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