ABC’s of Bird Identification – Habitat

Where a bird is seen is often a very good clue to its identity. The old saying that someone in an unfamiliar situation is like a duck out of water reflects the well-known habitat preference of ducks. Other species also show strong preferences for a particular habitat or location.

Some common habitats include.

  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Forests
  • Marshes
  • Swamps
  • Open fields
  • Coastlines
  • Deserts

Different species have adapted to the different habitats, including adaptations for nesting and food gathering.



The Belted Kingfisher feeds by diving into the water to capture a small fish. It is seldom seen far from water, its preferred habitat.

Comfort Zones

Many and maybe even most bird species have a preferred comfort zone. A backyard might not qualify as a specific habitat in broad terms, but the preferences of certain species are often easy to observe. White-throated Sparrows prefer feeding on the ground, woodpeckers on the side of trees and a Great Crested Flycatcher will most often be seen hanging out near the middle or top of a tree. The clues you pick up in your own back yard will help you identify more birds as you expand your birding efforts.