One of the most interest facets of bird watching is studying bird behavior..  The behavior of a bird, including posture, the way they move, feed and fly can be distinctive enough to identify a bird just by its behavior.   Here are my five favorite bird behaviors, mostly learned early in my birding career, which is probably why I enjoy them so much.

1. Marsh Hawk
Many years ago I needed two hours to graduate from college. My botany professor, Dr. Bob Neal, offered to give me the credit if I would do some research for him and learn to identify 100 birds by sight and 25 by their call, and some more research.  I had never been birding before in my life.

On one of the first trips Dr. Neil identified a Marsh Hawk at a great distant, no binoculars needed.  It turned out the Marsh Hawk (now called the Northern Harrier) hunts by flying low over grassy fields.  I was impressed, also by the distinctive white rump of the hawk.  Of course I later learned that Short-eared Owls hunt in a similar fashion.

2.  Black Skimmer
An early trip to the Texas coast revealed a bird I had never heard of called a Black Skimmer.  Their unique bill and feeding style made this bird an easy ID for a beginner birder and a fascinating introduction into the world of unique bird behavior.

3.  Spotted Sandpiper
This bird stands out as a shorebird I identified by myself, far from the coast.  They are a rather plain looking bird when they visit Texas in the fall.   They bob as trey walk around but the more distinctive move to me was the way they fly.   Their seemingly stiff wings beat rapidly and show a thin white line across the back.  They seldom raise more than 3 feet or so when moving along a shore line or mud flat.

4.  Reddish Egret
Many years ago I was birding on the Texas coast in the company of a young lady,  She had been birding a few years but was not experienced with coastal specials.  She was trying to convince me that a Reddish Egret was really a Little Blue Heron.   I told her to be patient and watch the bird’s behavior.  If it started to hunt for food it would move around in what appeared to be a drunken, erratic manner.   It also might use its wings to shield light from the soon.  Right on time, the bird began to dance around in search of a fish.  That call paid dividends later that evening:)

5. Brown Pelican
Many years ago the Brown Pelican was almost extinct in the United States.  My first observation of this bird occurred on a lake near Dallas.  A very unusual inland record and at the time a very good record for the state.

Brown Pelicans have made a remarkable recovery and are one of my favorite birds to watch.   They will glide effortlessly along the surface of the ocean, sometimes seeming to fly in the trough between waves.  So smooth and graceful.

Their feeding style is what make them so spectacular.  As they soar high over the water in search of a fish that almost come to a stop before folding their wings and diving straight into the water.  A spectacular move i can watch for hours.

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