The casual birder: identifying bird types. Part 1 | Sue Pulsipher | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

The casual birder: identifying bird types. Part 1

teacher avatar Sue Pulsipher, birder & videographer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Five Steps to Bird Identification


    • 3.

      Bird Types: Flamingo & Duck


    • 4.

      Bird Type: Dove


    • 5.

      Bird Type: Warbler


    • 6.

      Bird Type: Hawk


    • 7.

      Project. Have Fun!


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

For business or pleasure we visit places where the local animals and plants are new to us. Where ever you go (attending a conference, visiting family) you will see birds around you. 

In this class I will show you how to identify some easily recognized types of birds. Identifying birds is a skill that provides personal satisfaction and you can share the thrill of discovery and identification with others, especially children. 

Students enrolled in this class can be from anywhere on the planet so I've chosen to use bird examples from the Galapagos Islands.  What makes a hawk, a hawk, is the same in Ecuador, in India or in the United States.

In this class I will:

  • explain my five steps to bird identification
  • use video clips to show you how to identify five bird types
  • provide you with a project that takes you outside to identify a bird

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sue Pulsipher

birder & videographer


Sue Pulsipher is a lifelong birder and an amateur naturalist. She participates in citizen science projects from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and The Institute of Bird Populations. She would like every adult and child to experience the same joy that she does when watching wildlife. Her focus is on introducing people to the lives of birds through the medium of film, whether those birds are in a city or a garden, in a desert or by the ocean.

Sue is a frequent traveler, with recent trips to Peru, Ecuador, India and Greece. She mixes an appreciation of local culture and landscape in with her exploration of bird life. Watch Sue's videos on her Birding Travels channel on YouTube.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Welcome to the class. The casual birder identifying bird types. Part one. I'm Soo Pulsipher and I'm your instructor. This class will provide tips on how to put a name to the birds. You see whether you are on the beach vacation with family, attending a conference in a major city, on looking at birds in your own back yard, identifying birds, but by two with an interactive activity to share with Children grandchildren. I find putting a name to a bird very satisfying, and I'd like to share this still light with you. I am a lifelong birdwatcher. I started with birds at the feeder like a green finch in my native England. I love to explore new places, and in recent years I've visited places like Peru, India and Alaska. I find looking for different birds is both an excellent reason to travel on. And I find I focus more my surroundings on what I am seeing. When identified, the birds I participate in sits and science bird projects, and I love to share information about birds and their lives in this class. I'll show you how to identify five types of birds. What is it that makes a bird, a duck or a hawk, a warbler or flamingo. You'll become familiar of my five steps of bird identification, but the visual examples I'm using video clips of boats on the Galapagos. Silence but not choice. You may think as many if you will never visit these islands. However, this class this focused on what makes a pelican a pelican and then applying this knowledge to birds in places that you can visit. I consider the use of the Galapagos Islands birds as a tool to accustom you to observing your surroundings. The landscapes, tortoises, no iguanas of the islands create a gorgeous and exotic visual backdrop. Broad lessons. And don't forget this glass is cold. The casual murder. Our goal is spun and satisfaction on identifying the easy birds. For the class project, you will photograph of bird and identified the bird type. So join me in this exploration of birth types and enroll in the collapse. I'll see you inside 2. The Five Steps to Bird Identification: welcome to our first lesson on identifying birth types. In this lesson, I provide an introduction to my five steps to identifying a bird with an emphasis on the steps will use in this collapse. Identifying a bird's type can be done with no reference to other factors, sighs plume. It shape and behaviour often sufficient information for you to decide that what you are looking at is a parrot, not a heron. But subconsciously, you may be using off ACC loops. I break the process on deciding what a bird is into five steps. I use these five steps to arrive at species level identification. The first step is where are you on the planet location? Most bird species on many bird types are not found everywhere. You will not see a wild hummingbird in Europe, Asia, Africa, Austral, Arcia. But in the Americas you have over 300 species to pick from P fell peacocks and pea hens only found in parts of Asia in the Congo of Africa. So in India I can see a wild PIF bowel in the right habitat, but not a hummingbird. To find out which birds live in your area, look for a book or websites listening birds found at a particular location, the second step in identifying a bird. This time of year or season, birds move around in response to colder or hotter weather, rain or lack of it onto the quantity of food available. A bird may live high on the mountainside when it is war, unmoved to a lower elevation. When it is colder, a bird may fly thousands of miles, toe a place of an excellent food supply for feeding chicks and then fly back again. Once a younger, independent during May to July on the east coast of the United States, I see bird species that spend the rest of the year in Central and South America. Then, during November tomorrow, a new set of species moves in. These birds have flown south from their northern breeding grounds, noticing what kind of habitat you are in will help you decide what type of bird you are looking at. Step free is habitat. What is the habitat? When we talk about where we live, we might say I live in a city or a village in an urban area, in a suburb or in the farming community I might say I live near a lake or the ocean or a desert. The's phrases will bring up a image of what the area around us looks like. This area is our habitat. Some bird types are usually found in a particular type of habitat. Heavens and ducks are bound near or in water books and warp close if found on land. While it may be identified with one kind of habitat, it may use different ones for different activities. Where it beats rests raises young, maybe free, different habitats. As you look at birds toe work out what type of bird eaters consider where the bird is. What is its habitat? What is it doing there? The preceding clips were of the high Arctic near Barrow, Alaska, in June. Many ducks and shorebirds go there to breed in the summer. For a complete contrast, Harrison man made habitats still more to retention Pond bounded by businesses and an interstate highway, a city drainage ditch. Birders are watching a bird on the Far Bank. Here is part of a large artificial wetland park created to filter store water. The park is used by walkers, birders and alligator watchers. The roots of a closed railway line is now a linear park. We've dense housing on either side, even in the hearts of major urban areas. Birds can be found. Here is a view down onto part of Delhi and Greeks showing patches of greenery under two very busy tourist site like the Taj Mahal in India. But it's invisible. Notice the white cattle egrets to the left now percent promise habitats. The Cyprus pond, tropical woodland, a pint, Boris the birch wood, the semi arid woodland. And how about two new Oasis? The work Khorkina Oasis is in southern Peru. We'll close this brief look of the variety of habitats with use of pastoral agricultural seems on the beach. All of these are habitats that different species of birds and different types of birds will use. And the next lessons you will learn how to identify five types of birds. The type identification. Step four In the five steps to bird identification 3. Bird Types: Flamingo & Duck: in this lesson, we'll identify flamingos and ducks. Flamingoes are wading. Bird and ducks are waterfowl. Both types of birds are found in or near inland water. But first here is one of the other animals share the same water. In the Galapagos Islands, this is a marine iguana. This extraordinary animal lives on land but feeds in the sea, grazing on seaweed, on exposed rocks or by diving into the cold seawater. Back to the flamingos, a type of bird that is already familiar to many of us, from visits to a zoo features that one looks forward. Notices are those long, long legs and long neck and usually a strong pinkish shade to the whole body. You usually find them walking or standing in water on the upper feature that stands out is a shape of that bill. Flamingoes don't seem to mind being near humans. Thes clips were taken in the town of Villamil, on the island of Isabella. There is a tourist viewing platform overlooking this lagoon. When they feed, the birds stirs up the silt and mud on the bottom with its feet. Then the bill filters out water and silt on the birds swallows crustaceans and other creatures. This clip is from a different island glow. Bianna as a bird is walking on the mudflats, you can really appreciate those long legs and how it uses its bill upside down to feed. Flamingoes are social birds, and you usually find them in a group. They took the head back when taking a nap, and if you should be fortunate to see one fly, both the neck and legs have extended out. Here is a summary of features to look for to identify a flamingo. The species found on the Galapagos Islands and elsewhere in the Americas is the American Flamingo. You identified this bird as a duck from the compact body on Defected to swimming. You'll find ducks anywhere. There is water, ocean ponds, wetlands, streams, etcetera. Next are short, and so is a tale of most species. Another feature of a duck is the wide flattened bill. This particular species is a white cheeked pen tail. Some distinguishing features that are easy to spot are the white cheek, and at the base of the bill, there is a red patch on either side. One way to divide up ducks is by how they feed the white cheek pink tail is a dabbling duck . That means it feeds on vegetation, the surface of the water rather than diving. Sometimes you'll see the birds upended of their head, in the water, on their tail in the air. Here is a summary of features to look for to identify a duck, the white cheapen tail. It's found in the Caribbean and South America on DESY only duck found on the Galapagos silence. 4. Bird Type: Dove: how an expert type is the devil pigeon. The words dove and pigeon are interchangeable. The bird in this clip is a dove when a species is called a picture and it is often larger. But this is not always the case in this lesson. I'm using clips of the Galapagos stuff, and the common foul pigeon does have a solid compact body. They have short legs, a small head and a short, slender bill. Their wings are large and the birds are strong. Flyers and very maneuverable in the air. Don't spend a lot of time on the ground. They'll be searching for food or resting. Some dove species specialize in eating seed until office prefer fruit. For some species, you'll see a single bird and fathers there will be a group or flock. Federal pigeons, in particular, can be in very large flocks. When they walk, their head bobs back and forth. This is a trait that will help you distinguish a dove from other compact land. Birds on the ground dubs air adaptable and have found in most parts of the world. In these clips, we've seen them perched on rocks on beaches, manmade railings and fishing piers, and we'll see them in trees. In most of these settings, the colors and patenting of their plumage helps mask the outline and location. Spot this bird on its nest, and here is the summary of features to look for toe, identify a dove. 5. Bird Type: Warbler: in this lesson for the casual birder, we'll examine a type of bird called war Bliss. War bliss rarely stay still. The bird in this clip, like many war bliss, is checking under leaves for insects to eat buffa warblers. Species will poke under the bark to pry out bugs, which is a way of finding food called cleaning diagnostic features are their small size and active movement on birds will often call or seeing this Sayfie, the Bayliss, Finn and straight and pointed at the end. The I is dark and easily seen, or blitz is what I call a generic term for groups of birds found in many parts of the world . While different groups may not be closely related genetically, there look and behavior is similar. The warbler in these clips is the only war blue species found on the Galapagos Islands, So if you visit the islands, assigning a name is easy. But in most parts of the world, assigning a species name to a warbler is tricky for the casual bird abo. Our aim is to recognize that the bird is a warbler, not another small bird like a fin juror sparrow. In this clip, the dark bird on the left is a finch, the finch and warbler, our similar size and in the same habitat. But look carefully at the bill on the Finch. It is thick and shaped like a triangle and sort of merges into the face of the bird. In contrast, the bill of a warbler looks more like an attached toothpick. So what else will help us determine that this bird is warbler? Habitat is not useful. In a broad sense. It's different. Warblers species reside in different land based environments, but a specific warbler is often the habitat specialist. And so when you are ready to try your hand at identifying a particular species, you'll find habitat useful. This mangrove yellow warbler it's found in wet thickets and mangroves. Another species might specialize in coniferous forests. Also, your geographic location in the world and time of year will limit which species air in your area. Now have you noticed the color and pattern difference in the warblers? In the clips, some of the birds had chestnut streaks on the breast and a chestnut patch on the top of the head. The birds with the chestnut are males For many warblers species. The males and females have different plumage, colors and patterns. I've mentioned some of the challenges to identifying a particular species of warbler on. You may be thinking I'll never manage that. Remember, our focus is to identify the type of bird that is the skill to practice. Now. Here is a summary of things to look for when identifying a warbler. 6. Bird Type: Hawk: The first talk that I saw in the Galapagos Islands was sitting in a tree. Our group had landed on a red sand beach and we were walking towards a path to the interior . The hawk looked at us as we got closer and just kept looking. When we returned to the beach an hour or so later, the hawk was sitting in the same spot. How do I know that this bird is a hawk? Size is an indicator on being perched in a tree as we walked closer. Thick legs were. Talents at the end were very obvious. Then, when the bird turned its head, the solid looking curved bill with a wicked looking point on the end came into view. Usually, the bill on the hawk is two. Toned on the area of the base, where the nostrils are, is a pale or yellowish shade. This area is called the Surrey. Spelled C E. R E hawks are carnivorous. Here is a lava lizard, which is a common prey item for Galapagos Hawk Lava. Lizards are easily seen as they bask in the sun or quarter mate, but they move very fast. Other prey items are Locusts, snakes and rodents. Young of larger creatures are potential meals as well. Here is another look of the tree and shrub habitat that a hawk will use. Being perched at the edge of a beach like the previous bird provides an open viewing area for spotting prey. As we walked inland, we came across some of the island's famous animals. Here are Galapagos finches, a bird we're not covering in this class and giggle APA Ghost autos. Then we hit the jackpot, so to speak, with this hawk perched high in a tree. From this review, the feathers on the upper part of the legs are visible. Hawk feathers are usually in shades of brown, with a mix of white and red tones. The bird to the left of this hawk is a Galapagos mockingbird. Mocking birds as a bird type are known for their pugnacious behavior when they find a predator, especially if they have a nest or fledglings nearby. Compared the size of the two birds, the Mockingbird measures from 20.5 to 28 centimeters. That is 8.12 11 inches. The hawk ranges from 45 to 58 centimeters, 18 to 23 inches. There are two marking birds here, moving around the hawk. When the hawk is facing away, a bird attacks it. Birds like crows also mob hawks. The's mocking birds are acting out a cat and mouse game where they are the mouse. We watched this hawk being attacked for over 15 minutes on the bird, took no retaliatory action. Then we experienced one of those seven deputies moments that will happen when you spend enough time watching birds. Another hawk flew in on mated with the bird in the tree. Now we know the bird being attacked by the mocking birds was a female. There are believed to be only around 150 myth mating pairs in existence today. So we were very fortunate to see this pair. And here is a summary of major points to conclude our lesson on identifying Ah Hawk 7. Project. Have Fun!: welcome to our last video. First, a brief review, and then I'll describe how to do the project. I have really life examples to show you. The goal of this class is to identify five bird types. We examined a duck, a duck, a flamingo ah, hawk under warbler. In the video clips, you saw the kind of habitat that a particular bird type disassociated with. I am going to throw in a caveat here. A. Some students may be raising their hands and saying, but I can see hawks in the desert or up a mountain or flying over water. My responses. This class. It's for casual birders and therefore I am making generalizations. Look for future classes from me for more in depth coverage of the five steps to bird identification, this class has concentrated on step free for habitat and step for for bird type. These are the steps students will use in their project. So now that you have completed this journey with me in learning how to identify five types of birds, it's just time for you to go outside, find a bird near your home or in a local park, take a child with you and share the experience of deciding what type your bird is. Take a photograph. Write down the information we covered in the five steps type of bird type of habitat. Where were you? Mum for season, Providing species Name is optional. Then share your experience with the rest of the class. By uploading your project, I will provide feedback for the project. I went for a walk, but apart with a large sinkhole, I walked down the steps towards the water in the hole. There I came across a group of people with smartphones out taking pictures. A large bird was perched on a thick branch over the water, basing towards all of us on the steps. Note the large feet with talons, the big head with curved bill on the upright posture from the surroundings, you can tell this is a large alert bird. Did you recognize the spurred as a hawk? And here is my write up for the project for enough, for example, of a project I'll take you for Walk around the edge Piston Web Savoir in Birmingham, England. The reservoir is a multi use facility for local residents. In one area, a dragon boat races in progress. In a quiet area by the water, we found this medium size compact bird with a broad and flattened bill. Birds can become accustomed to people in their activities. Further along the path is this domestic scene a female ducats preening while the ducklings rest. Bully stocks are mallets, the 1st 1 but the brighter plumage is the mail. And here is how I wrote up the ducks toe Upload us a project. I do hope you have had this much fun taking this class as I had creating it for you. The second part for this class, Siri's will cover girls, pelicans and mocking birds. Followers of my classes will be notified when the new classes available in the big time. Try out your new skills identifying bird types by viewing videos posted on my YouTube channel. Birding travels. I'm most of all go outdoors and enjoy watching birds