It's a beautiful day and you are walking through the woods. You have your binoculars in your hand just in case you see something worthwhile. Up ahead you catch a glimpse of something red flying between the trees. Can you identify this bird?
Along with those binoculars you may also want to add a pen and paper to your list. Without a positive description of what you saw, your identification process will be unsuccessful.
The first thing to note on a bird is its physical features. It is important to remember the size, tail length and beak. You can compare these features to a leaf or branch that you pick up from the ground. The length and color of its wings, back, breast and belly are key characteristics and need to be noted . Don't forget to check out the birds toes. You will also need details of its voice, posture, how it flies, walks or hops. Last but not least, where did you spot it. Was it in a field, at the edge of the woods, by a pond etc.
In order to identify the bird you saw, you will need a Bird Field Guide. You can purchase one of these from the local bookstore. Choose the guide that specifies the birds in the region where you live. With your careful detailed description and the field guide you can narrow down the bird you saw.
This may sound like a lot of work, but do not get discouraged. It takes time and practice to develop an eye for identifying birds. So the next time you are walking through the woods or you get that mystery bird eating birdseed in the back yard, you just might surprise yourself!