Australian species of birds are quite well known and the number of described species is 900. This includes extinct and introduced species. With this amount of diversity there are a number of features you can focus on to make identifications possible.
There is a term used in the birdwatching world (it’s really an acronym) called the “giss” (pronounced jizz), which is an acronym for General Impression of Size and Shape
So when observing a bird in the field, these features, along with those listed below are all very helpful in trying to work out ‘what bird is that.’
Identifying features include:
- colour of plumage on all parts of the bird- males, females and juveniles can have different colouration and plumage.
- size of the bird- legs, tail, body, shape of head. Keep in mind that size is relative and difficult to judge especially at great distances.
- habitat of the bird
- beak shape and size- can identify how it feeds
- feet- can identify the birds' habitat- webbed, powerful talons
- call or song
Resources to assist in identification
There are many field guides, Apps and websites to assist in identification. Here are a few examples:
- The Australian Bird Guide” by Menkhorst et al. (2017). Another good one is “The field guide to the Birds of Australia” by Pizzey and Knight.
- The website, Birds in backyards has an easy to use bird finder as well as bird songs and the most common urban birds.
- The Michael Morcombe’s Field Guide to Australian Birds App has over 3000 hi-res bird images covering over 790 bird species.