TIPS FOR SHOREBIRD IDENTIFICATION
(From the booklet "A Pocket Guide to Great Plains Shorebirds".)
Shorebirds are highly variable in their appearance, behavior and life history making it difficult to define shorebirds as a group. Generalized, they are medium to small-sized birds with relatively long legs. Many have long, slender probing bills. Most nest on bare ground in sparsely-lined depressions or scrapes. Precocial young hatch from camouflaged eggs and leave the nest site within a few hours.
The best way to learn about a species is to observe it in its natural habitat, throughout its range and in different seasons. The Pocket Guide to Great Plains Shorebirds uses morphology, distinctive behaviors, geographic range, preferred habitats and their seasonal occurrence to help identify the various species. Begin by answering the following questions as you observe the bird.
Spend time looking at the bird and make notes before looking in the guide. Refer to the drawings for unfamiliar terms. Although colors may be described as gray or orange, these are relative, subject to your interpretation and usually represent a continuum of light to dark and bright to dull. Differences in individual birds (such as age and sex) and the season, weather and lighting conditions can add confusion to identifying some species. Refer to the section on similar species under each of the species accounts to focus your observations and eliminate look-alike species. Above all, remember to have fun and enjoy your shorebird sightings!
Questions or comments? Send Email to Jim Mason