• "Birds are built for what they do.  Every part of the bird you're looking at is a clue to what it is."
    six mystery shapes  
     Do you know the shapes above?  Just by looking at the outline of the pictures you can identify these animals.   That is the same with birds.  By knowing basic bird shapes you can identify the group it belongs in.  Using the shape and now the size of the bird you can use your field guild to discover your mystery bird's identity!

    silhouettes 1 silhouettes 2


    Birds are typically categorized by their shape and physical characteristics.  For example, shorebirds have long legs and necks and upright bodies while gulls have short necks and are about as long as they are tall.  Dividing birds into groups is an important skill, especially if you plan to use field guides for identification.  Field guides group birds, so if you can decide which group a bird is in, you will more easily be able to use field marks to determine which species you are looking at.  You can find silhouettes like those seen above at the front of almost any field guide.

    (Courtesy of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)