3 Ways to Make Bird Identification Fun & Easy

Hilltown Families > Nature-Based Education > Native Species > Birds > Bird Identification

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Birds are everywhere this time of year, some migrating, some that stay with us over winter. Do you know who you’re sharing your yard with? Birds of all sorts have long since migrated to and from western Massachusetts, nesting here for the summer or passing through in their migrations… and it’s high time to get out and get birding!


Bird enthusiasts can identify bird species by noting their size, shape, color, feather pattern, and other distinctive markings. But what happens if you can’t get a close look at a bird? What if a flash of red passes by up ahead on a trail, or you’ve spotted a raptor soaring high above you? How can you tell? Learning birds’ calls, their behavior patterns, and the species native to your region are helpful bits of knowledge to support an interest in birding! Here are a few online resources to support learning at home!

Bird enthusiasts can identify bird species by noting their size, shape, color, feather pattern, and other distinctive markings. But what happens if you can’t get a close look at a bird? What if a flash of red passes by up ahead on a trail, or you’ve spotted a raptor soaring high above you? How can you tell? Learning the birds’ calls, their behavior patterns, and the species native to your region are helpful bits of knowledge to support an interest in birding! Here are three online resources to support an interest in ornithology while strengthening a sense of place!

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

In the winter, listen in the evening to hear the owls’ call as they begin nesting and using their hoots in the dark to establish their territories and attract a mate. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an excellent YouTube channel worth checking out where you will find videos to help your family identify bird calls, like this Owl Sampler:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Illustrated, interactive, song bird poster.

Thanks to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, families can work together to learn common bird calls using an interactive song bird poster. The beautifully illustrated poster includes detailed depictions of nearly 25 commonly found North American birds. Click on a bird to hear their song! Listening to each birds’ call multiple times can help learn and remember what sets each call apart. For practice, playing each bird and trying to identify its source species without looking at the screen – you’ll be surprised how difficult it can be to tell some of the calls apart!

National Audubon Society

Picture of a hand holding a smartphone opened to the National Audubon Society Audubon Bird Guide App.

The National Audubon Society offers a smartphone app:  Audubon Bird Guide App. “The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to over 800 North American bird species, right in your pocket. Built for all experience levels, it will help you identify the birds around you, keep track of the birds you’ve seen, and get outside to find new birds near you. With over 2 million downloads to date, it is one of the best and most trusted field guides for North American birds.”

What It’s Like to Be a Bird

One Comment on “3 Ways to Make Bird Identification Fun & Easy

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: