When identifying wild birds, first observe the size, shape, behavior and markings of the bird. Then, consult a field guide for further information. The bird's behavior and location also provides clues to a bird's identity. Binoculars allow birdwatchers to observe birds closely without disturbing them and to see subtle behaviors and markings that would otherwise be missed.
Quickly identify a bird's type and rule out other types of bird by observing its silhouette, which gives information on its, size, posture and proportions. Find the silhouette in a bird guide to discover more information on the bird. Compare the bird with others in the area or birds that are familiar. Focus on details about the parts of the bird and its markings.
Birds' behaviors give clues to their identities. Note whether the bird is sitting calmly, flitting around or soaring in circles high in the sky, and observe what the bird eats. A bird's location -- such as wetland, forest or backyard -- tells a lot about it.
Familiarity with birds' songs also aids identification, since birds are often hidden from view, and birds that look similar often have different vocalizations. Also, birds are often heard before they are seen.
Carry a field guide, such as those published by Sibley's or National Geographic. Taking photographs, taking notes in a journal and comparing similar species develops bird identification skills.