Recognising Individual Birds - Part 4

In the first three parts we examined three key features we can use to recognise birds from a distance.  The fourth way that I am going to tell you about today is one of my favourites, but it does require the birds to be close enough for detailed observation.  Another way would be to use a pair of binoculars.

The method I'm talking about is to look at their plumage patterns.  Like our fingerprints, the feathers of each bird forms a distinctive pattern.

Look at the three peewees in the picture below.  At first glance you may think that they all look the same.  But look again more carefully at the details of the black white feathers and you will three separate patterns. 

 peewee family 

I have used black and white birds in the examples here as the contrast makes it easy to observe the differences.  The feathers make distinctive shapes.  Observe the shape of the pattern on their heads, round their neck, along their cheeks, through their wings, on their thighs and their chest - each one has slightly different pattern.

You do not have to remember each and everyone of these patterns and learn every single difference. You only need to spot enough points that will help you identify the bird.  Is the shape of the white triangular or square? How many such shapes can you easily see? Do they have a thick stripe along their wings or a thin one or a double stripe?

In the picture of Maggie and Vicky's magpie family below:

magpie family pottering on the ground

- the shapes of the whites sections are distinctly different for each bird.

  As soon as you find one or two distinctive and easy to spot differences your mission is  accomplished.  You will be able to recognise your bird every time from far or near.  You may find it easier to take photographs and make notes in your journal at the beginning.  Once you get the hang of it you will find it will become second nature and you will not even think about it.

Tomorrow we will look at another easy method of recognising your bird.

For Part 1 of How To Recognise Individual Birds click here,

for Part 2 on Recognising Individual Birds click here,

for Part 3 on Recognising Your Bird click here.

If you would like to know more about  23 Amazing Facts About Wild Bird Culture with true stories - click on this link and enter your details.

To read the earlier articles in this blog challenge click here.

Until tomorrow,



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Gitie, This is fascinating! I never thought to look at a bird the way I look at a cat or other pet. Thank you for sharing and making it easy with the photo explanations.