Follow the Clues…Bird Detective!

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Hello, my name is Justin.

I will be teaching you how you can be a bird detective!  You just have to follow the clues to identify any bird species you want.  There is more ways than you think and here they are!

What I think is the easiest feature to use is finding males and females.  In almost all of the bird species the male looks different then the female.  You can also tell by the bird’s size, the largest bird on the earth is the Whooping Crane.  The smallest bird is five centimeters tall.  This bird lives in Cuba and is a Bee Hummingbird.  Here is a picture of a hummingbird that lives in our area.

Can you see the long, thin beak?


What other clues could you use to identify a bird species?

You can also tell the bird species by the beak.  A bird that eats nectar has a loooooong beak.  It uses its long tongue to slurp nectar up like its tongue is a straw.  A meat eater usually a sharp beak with a hook on the end.  This is used for ripping the meat apart.  An insect eater has a thin beak for pecking insects in small cracks and trees.  A bird that eats seeds has a sharp point at the end and strong edges to crack the seed open.

This Red-tailed Hawk on a Saguaro Cactus outside our room has a beak that helps tear meat.

There are also a lot of  different feet for birds.  Here is one.   Songbirds have four thin toes one, pointing diagonally left and another pointing diagonally right.  The other toe is pointing straight.  The last one is pointing backwards!  

Lesser Finch using its toes to grasp the finch sock at our classroom window.


Some birds like the Titmouse have “mohawks”, or as the Quail has a topnotch.  A topnotch is a little feather on the top of quail’s head.  

Many male and female Gambel's Quail feeding at our window. See the top knotch?


You can tell by the patterns and colors of the feathers.  For example, the female House Finch looks almost exactly like the Song Sparrow, but the Song Sparrow has darker brown spots.  The Song Sparrow only has the brown specs on the top of his stomach, it has a thin pointed beak, and it has a dark spot next to it’s eye.  A female House Finch has light brown spots all over it’s stomach and it has a curved beak, but doesn’t have the dark spot.  

This House Finch at our window is similar to the House Sparrow. Its pattern and color set it apart.



This is how you would be able to tell the difference between bird species.