All Birds Wiki
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This info can possibly apply to the US as well as the UK.

Basic groupings[]

I'm going to arrange the birds into eight different groups, according to Roger Tory Peterson [1]:

(1) Swimmers - Ducks and and ducklike birds.
(2) Aerialists - Gulls and gull-like birds.
(3) Long-legged Waders - Herons, cranes, etc.
(4) Smaller Waders - Plovers, sandpipers, etc.
(5) Fowl-like Birds - Grouse, quail, etc.
(6) Birds of Prey - Hawks, eagles, owls.
(7) Nonpasserine Land Birds
(8) Passerine (Perching) Birds

Or, according to the Audubon Society [2]:

(1) Long-legged Waders
(2) Gull-like Birds
(3) Upright-perching Wader Birds
(4) Duck-like Birds
(5) Sandpiper-like Birds
(6) Chicken-like Marsh Birds
(7) Upland Ground Birds
(8) Owls
(9) Hawk-like Birds
(10) Pigeon-like Birds
(11) Swallow-like Birds
(12) Tree-clinging Birds
(13) Perching Birds
Swimmer or duck-like bird. Bird of prey or hawk-like bird. Nonpasserine land bird or pigeon-like bird.

Within time, it will be seen that ducks do not resemble loons; gulls are readily distinguishable from terns. The needlelike bills of warblers immediately differentiate them from the seed-cracking bills of sparrows [1].

Mew Gull Larus canus Common Gull Royal Tern (Thalasseus maxima) RWD4
Left to right: A gull vs. a tern.

What is the bird's size?[]

Acquiring the habit of comparing a new bird with some familiar "yardstick" -- a House Sparrow, a Robin, a Pigeon, etc., so that you can say to yourself, "smaller than Robin; a little larger than a House Sparrow." [1].

What is its shape?[]

Is it plump like a starling or slender like a cuckoo? [1]

European Startling (Sturnus vulgaris) RWDKuckuck (Cuculus canorus) by Tim Peukert


What shape are its wings?[]

Are they rounded like a Bobwhite's or sharply pointed like a Barn Swallow's?

Bob White Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) (13)

  • Note: I apologise, I couldn't find a Wikipedia Commons pic of a bobwhite flying

References[]

  1. ^ a b c d Peterson, Roger Tory (1980). A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 039526619X. 
  2. ^ Bull, John; John Farrand Jr.; American Museum of Natural History and Susan Rayfield (1977). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0394414055. 
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