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Bird Identification

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Books  -  I'm sure many birders will have large collections with some detailed editions & magazines etc.  For info, the ones I use the most are:-


Field Guide... "The Mitchell Beazley Birdwatcher's Pocket Book" - small enough to take with me, good coverage + had it since the 70's!

Reference.... "Britain's Birds by Hume", "Collins Bird Guide" & "The Crossley Guide" - all excellent books for checking back at home.

Bird ID..... "Bird Identification" & "Birds ID Insights" - good for explaning the differences of Marsh & Willow Tit + Chiffchaff & Willow Warbler etc.

Gulls.... Almost a whole world of its own but "Gulls of the World by Klaus Malling Olsen" is just about the best helpful Gull guide I've come across.

Where to See Birds.... I particularly like "Yorkshire - Best Birdwatching Sites" for the local stuff + "Where to Watch Birds in Britain" for rest of UK.

Pocket Field Guide.jpg
ID Books.jpg

Smartphone Apps & Websites  -  There's probably many more but here's a few useful ones I've come across:-


ID Guide.... "Merlin by the Cornell Lab" - take a photo of the bird (or use description), put it on Merlin with a location & date and it gives suggested ID.  Quality of ID depends on quality of picture but often correct + gives alternative ID's with explanations.   App is free on Android & iPhone.

Reference & Bird Calls.... "Collins Bird Guide App" - £14.99 on Android or iPhone for the European version or £6.99 for just the main (nearly 300) UK birds but well worth it - includes most the birds you're likely to come across with pictures and also "Songs & Calls".

Bird Calls..... "" - Website with every bird song/call you could think of to download in mp3 format - free of charge.


If you still need an identification after all of the above - I'd send a photo or description to the

 "UK Bird Identification Facebook Forum".           They should sort it for you!!

Bird Sounds 


Birds make sounds for many reasons - to attract mates, give alarms, show its their territory or simply just to let others know they're there etc.

Getting to know these songs and calls can therefore be a great help in trying to locate them and, in many cases, it's easier to hear them than see them.  Plus, sometimes the birds are so similar in appearance - it's easier to tell them apart by sound rather than by appearance!

One of the best sources to help ID bird sounds is once again the "Merlin" by Cornell App (free on Android & iPhone).  As well as helping with picture ID you can have the "Sound ID" function open and it will tell you what birds are calling/singing nearby.  Not 100% accurate but not far off!

Bird Info (inc Sounds) from the RSPB Website:-          (Click on Link then "Audio" button for song etc)  

Most people start off by just enjoying watching birds, then progress to identifying a few different species by learning from others or checking pictures in one of the many bird books available.  Sometimes this can be relatively easy when telling a Great Tit from a Blackbird but not so easy when trying to decide if it's a Chiffchaff or a Willow Warbler!


What I'll try and do in this section then is show you a few of the techniques you can use to aid identification ie books, smartphone apps and also a bird sounds website so you can get to know the calls - very handy with the Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler ID above!


Finally, I've added a few Bird Calls to give an insight into the differences between them.


As a start, it's handy to know the different parts of a bird so you can tell what a supercilium is etc - the following pics may help:-

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