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ABC’s of Bird Identification – Habitat

belted kingfisher

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.


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.

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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