Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Do It Yourself

I think we're ready for another adventure! In my video, I introduced you to a local bird species. Today, you're going to identify a bird species for yourself. I know it sounds scary, but you can do it! Let's walk through the steps.

This is a bird that you have probably seen before. If you already know its name, good for you! If you aren't sure, let me show you how to identify it.

Okay, step one - It's a bird! Boo-yah!
Step two - Knowing where a bird can be found, or what its "range" is, can be really helpful. I just told you this is a bird you've probably seen before. So, we know this bird's range includes California.
Step three - Look at its general body shape. This looks kind of like a pigeon, right? It has a small, curved beak, a tiny head, and a large body, just like a pigeon. If I tell you that pigeons belong to a family of birds called the "doves," you know that this is a dove, as well.
Step four - Look at its colors: brown over all with some black speckling.
Now we have everything we need in order to find out this bird's name.

Let me show you how to use the magical internet to identify this bird.
The first website you can use is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and it's called allaboutbirds.org. This site is really easy to use. Just go to the search bar and type in some of the information we know. (I would suggest "california dove brown.") It comes up with a lot of bird species that match that description. Now, be careful, because very different dove species can look very similar! With a bit of patience and attention to detail, you can easily find out what bird this is.

Second is a website called whatbird.com. Go to search. Now, this website works a bit differently than the Cornell one. Instead of using the search bar, you have to use the "Attributes" section underneath and plug in all of the information you know to narrow down what species this might be. Try it! Fill in "Location Common" with California, "Color Primary" with brown, and any other details you feel are worth mentioning. The possible species appear in the "Matches" section above. After only a few filled in Attributes, the site offers some very good suggestions as to what this bird might be.

These two websites are very different, but they're both accurate, and they're both pretty user friendly. Try them out, see which one you like best, and attempt to identify a bird on your own!

Also: First person to tell me what species this is gets brownie points. : )

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