Fall Warbler Identification

Yellow-rumped Warbler Photo Credit:Deborah Rivel What is THAT bird?  This is the annual cry of frustration from many a birder during fall migration, when spring’s flashiest male birds are sporting more muted attire. These birds have had a very busy spring and summer finding a mate, defending their territory and raising chicks – all of which requires […]

Make the ID:  White-winged Crossbill vs Pine Grosbeak

These two red finches both share a similar attraction to seeds. White-winged Crossbill Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila They also overlap in range, preferring the far north and into Canada, and sometimes telling the difference between them can be challenging. Here are a few tips to make the right ID between these winter favorites — White-winged Crossbills and Pine Grosbeaks: Pine Grosbeak Photo […]

Make the ID: Common Goldeneye vs Bufflehead

Make the ID:  These two beautiful ducks can be found in the same areas, and at a distance, or in poor light on their own,  can be confusing.  Common Goldeneye Photo Credit:  Stan Tekeila Both Buffleheads and Common Goldeneyes have iridescent green on their heads and shocks of white.  And while Common Goldeneyes do indeed have golden […]

Get a Headstart on Spring By Learning Bird Calls Now

Gray Catbird/Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel Up your birding ID game this spring by starting now to learn to ID birds by their songs. Often birds are only heard, and by recognizing their calls you can easily add more birds to your list. Not all birds have calls that are instantly recognizable – like the unmistakable call […]

Make a Difference – Sign Up For the Christmas Bird Count!

Have a blast birdwatching and make a contribution to science by joining a Christmas Bird Count in your area.  Photo Credit: Camilla Cerea/Audubon This marks the 119th year since Audubon co-opted the annual bird shoot and make it into a much bird-friendlier bird count! This year you can join over 70,000 people in the US, Canada, Latin America, […]

The Year of the Bird in July – Take A Kid Into Nature

Photo Credit:Meghan Kearney, USFWS This month in the Year of the Bird, we encourage you to get your kids or kids you know out into nature.  If you love birds, teaching a child how to bird can create both an understanding of and interest in nature which can translate into a lifelong passion for him […]

Owling By Sound

Owl ID: Owling By Sound Owls are primarily nocturnal creatures, so your best chance of seeing them is going to be at night when they are most active.  You may get quiet flyovers as they check you out, which are especially exciting when there is a bright moonlit sky, and you may sometimes find them […]

ID Tips: Downy vs Hairy Woodpeckers

ID TIPS:  Downy vs Hairy Woodpeckers While it’s easy to identify a Pileated Woodpecker (think Woody Woodpecker) or a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, two smaller and very common woodpeckers provide a challenge to even more experienced birders. So… how to tell the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers apart? The little Downy Woodpecker (pictured here) is around 6.5 inches […]

ID Tips – Loons vs Mergansers

ID Tips – Loons vs Mergansers  Common Loons and Red-breasted Mergansers Common Loon and chick are beautiful waterfowl which many associate with the Northern Woods, as they typically breed on these fresh-water lakes. Both birds are found in similar territories year round.  During breeding season they have more  distinctive markings. But sometimes the Red-breasted Merganser […]

Warbler ID Tips

Warbler ID Tips – Magnolia vs Yellow-Rumped  It’s spring migration! As warblers are passing through where you are, or the overwintering species are now in their Magnolia Warbler breeding plumage, some of these birds can be a little challenging to ID. Iconic Yellow Warblers are easy to recognize with their overall yellow body and red […]

Sandhill vs Whooping Crane ID

Easy ID – Sandhill vs Whooping Crane Every March, Sandhill Cranes descend on Nebraska’s Platte River which is a favored feeding area during migration for tens to hundreds of thousands of cranes. The other species of crane in North America is the Whooping Crane.  But, unlike Sandhill Cranes, Whooping Cranes are endangered.  So, if you assumed the cranes […]

Eagle ID Tips

Eagle ID Tips Making the ID between a Bald Eagle and a Golden Eagle is simple, right?  After all, don’t Bald Eagles have a white Adult Golden Eagle head?  And don’t Golden Eagles only live in the western US? Well, yes and no.  If you use just these two parameters in your ID, you will likely […]

Crow or Raven? How to Make the ID

Common Raven In winter, corvids, which include crows and ravens, are easy to spot and are fairly common. At a distance, both look very similar, and their all-black plumage makes identification tricky. With these tips and some practice, you’ll be able to separate crows and ravens with ease. If in doubt, remember that it’s easier […]

Wading Bird ID 101

Wading Bird ID 101 This summer if you are near fresh or salt water, you will likely see wading birds. Many of the larger waders  are easy to identify if you just know the basics.  If you are new to finding and identifying these long-legged herons, egrets and cranes, here are a few tips to […]

Owling 101

Late autumn and winter are great times to look for owls.   Owls are nocturnal so the best time of day to start looking for them is right around sunset when they start getting active. Unless you already know where an owl roosts during the day, they are seriously difficult to find in daylight when they […]

Tricky Fall Migration

Fall Birding sure is a lot different than spring. One challenge is that fall migration takes place after breeding Molting Male Goldfinch season, so many migrants are in their “basic”, or non-breeding plumage. Males that were bright and colorful in the spring and summer are now either becoming or are already dull and brown. For […]

Shorebirds Made Easy

  This month, many shorebirds are nesting in the high northern latitudes. A few species, such as Killdeer and Piping Plovers, nest in the Continental United States, but most are in northern Canada and Alaska, nesting on the tundra. Shorebirds are amazing, but many birders ignore this Sanderling dynamic group of birds because they are […]