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Bird Identification Tips

Keys for Difficult Bird ID's

Let's face it...some birds are difficult to differentiate from a similar species.  Ever see a Scaup from 50 yards away and try to tell whether it's a "Lesser" or "Greater"?  How about telling apart the little "peeps" (tiny sandpipers)?  Ugh...it's not always easy to identify the species when certain species look so similar.

Well, hopefully these pages can help you to make the difficult calls. The links below will take you to pages which highlight the differences between commonly confused species.  Each page provides photos of each species, range maps to help you identify where each species is likely to be seen, and key identification tips to help you tell them apart.  Is there some class of birds that stumps you? Please submit suggestions for any additional "difficult ID's", if you have them, and I'll do what I can to add them below.

Sharp-tailed Grouse - Tympanuchus phasianellus

"Prairie Grouse"

(Sharp-tailed Grouse vs.

Prairie Chickens)

Greater Prairie Chicken - Tympanuchus cupido
Western Grebe - Aechmophorus occidentalis

Western vs. Clark's Grebe

Clark's Grebe - Aechmophorus clarkii
Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis 

White Egrets and Herons

Snowy Egret - Egretta thula 
Snow Goose - Chen caerulescens

Snow Goose vs. Ross's Goose

Ross's Goose - Chen rossii
Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes 

Lesser vs. Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca 
Franklin's Gull - Larus pipixcan 

"Black-hooded" Gulls

Laughing Gull - Larus atricilla 
Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis 

"Typical" Gulls

California Gull - Larus californicus 
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis Hawks (Buteo Hawks) Rough-legged Hawk - Buteo lagopus
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens

Downy vs. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus
Cedar Waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum

Cedar vs. Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing - Bombycilla garrulus
Blue Grosbeak - Guiraca caerulea

"Blue" Buntings and Grosbeaks

Lazuli Bunting - Passerina amoena
House Finch - Haemorhous mexicanus House Finch vs. Purple Finch Purple Finch - Haemorhous purpureus



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Please mail any comments/suggestions/additional links for this page to: Terry L. Sohl