All Birds Wiki
All Birds Wiki

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.jpg Royal Tern (Thalasseus maxima) RWD4.jpg
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) RWD.jpgKuckuck (Cuculus canorus) by Tim Peukert.jpg

What shape are its wings?

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

Bob White.jpg Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) (13).JPG

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


  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.