Identification Order

When identifying a new bird, professional bird watchers suggest using the following order. Start with the head, then back, wings, rump and tail. Then move to the other side and look at the beak, throat, breast, belly, legs and undertail coverts.

Identification Order of Bird
Western Scrub-Jay
An Uncommon Visitor to Waldport

Field guides use identification marks or field marks to help identify a bird. Some favorite field guides are:

  • A Field Guide to Western Birds by Roger Tory Peterson
  • Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Nancy Baron & John Acorn
  • Field Guide to the Birds of North America by National Geographic Society
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley

Some field guides use descriptive words while others point out the distinctive markings. It's good to have both types of field guides for reference.