Friday, June 1, 2012

Bird Comparison Photos

Hopefully, most of the Bif readers have already read about the Biggest Week In American Birding from some of my fellow BiF bloggers.  The Biggest Week is organized and hosted by Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) where I am fortunate enough to be the executive director.  (Thus, my absence from BiF for the last few months!) It's truly a wonderful event, and it generates a a great deal of support for habitat conservation in the region. As you might imagine, a 10-day birding festival is a monumental task, but the event isn't all that BSBO does.  We also offer outstanding education programs, including our Ohio Young Birders Club for ages 12 - 18, and our free programs for schools, where K-12 students visit the Observatory to participate in songbird banding studies and learn about migration and the importance of protecting stopover habitat.

Another aspect of BSBO's mission involves the study of migratory birds, and this research served as the basis for the Observatory when it was founded in 1992.  Our primary songbird research station is one of the largest in the country in terms of numbers of birds per net hour, an indication of the incredible volume of birds that pass through this region of NW Ohio, and the habitat that makes this region a globally important bird area. 

Our banding studies allow us the opportunity to study birds in a remarkable way, and we do our best to make the time we have the birds in our hands as meaningful as possible.  In addition to all of the incredibly useful data we collect, we also try to take photos.  By photographing birds in a variety of ways, we can produce materials that help unravel the mysteries and challenges of bird identification, and reveal some of the truly extraordinary features of these feathered gems.

We share many photos on the BSBO's  Facebook page, and some of the images that people enjoy the most are those that show similar and/or multiple species together.  I thought it might be fun to share some of them here, but I hope you'll [Like] BSBO on Facebook, too!

I'll leave the photos unlabeled at first, allowing you to guess the species.  But don't worry, I'll reveal the answers at the end!

Photo #1

One of my favorite things is when the kids at our school programs call these guys "Oreos!"  I always tell them that they do NOT like to be dunked in milk, and their center doesn't taste nearly as good!
Photo #2
Is this a cool photo, or what?!?!  Five brown thrushes - all in a row.
Can you name them, left to right?!
Photo #3
Lots of colors in the names of these birds, as well as one fine city!
Bonus Vireo Photo!
Photo #4
Two similar warblers...
The "business end" of the same two warblers! ;-)
Photo #5
Here's a hint, they both sound a bit like insects!
Bonus Sparrow Photo!
Photo #6
One of these things is not like the other.....
Photo #7
Sandpipers!

Photo #8
You know what Barry Manilow would say if he ever got to hold a bird this adorable, don't you?  He would say, "and wren ... will I hold youuuuuu again?" ;-)
Photo #9
A Sparrow Primer!

Photo #10
And finally, the show-stopper!
The opportunity for side-by-side comparison of these two species doesn't
come along that often.  And when you DO have them this close, the similarity between the bird on the left and the bird on the right makes you wonder
how often they are correctly identified in the field.



Okay, are you ready for the big reveal?!  


Photo #1
 Adult Male Baltimore Oriole  //  Young Male Orchard Oriole 

Photo #2
Gray-cheeked Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush,
Veery, and 
Wood Thrush

Photo #3

Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, and Philadelphia Vireo
Bonus Vireos
Warbling Vireos (left) and Philadelphia Vireos (right)
It's all about the yellow in the throat in spring! 
Photo #4
Orange-crowned Warbler //  Tennessee Warbler 
A close-up of the undertail coverts that help separate the two species.
Tennessee (left) Orange-crowned (right) 

Photo #5
Henslow's Sparrow  (top)
 
Grasshopper Sparrow(bottom)

Bonus Henslow's / Grasshopper Sparrow Photo
These two elusive grassland sparrows are seldom seen this well. Grassland habitat is in serious decline, and along with it, the grassland birds that depend on it for their survival. Banding studies help us identify the specific needs of these birds, allowing us to help land owners better manage the precious areas we still have left.

Photo #6 
Least Flycatcher // Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Photo #7
Semipalmated Sandpiper (top)
Least Sandpiper (bottom)
The difference in bill shape is very evident when the birds are this close and this still.
Both birds are in juvenile plumage.
Photo #8
Marsh Wren // Winter Wren
They really are adorable little birds, aren't they?! 
Photo #9
Swamp Sparrow,  White-throated Sparrow,  Song Sparrow, and Fox Sparrow


Photo #10
Female Connecticut Warbler, Young Male Mourning Warbler, Female Mourning Warbler!



Having the birds together, and this close, you can really see that the eye ring of the Connecticut is much more solid and bold.  The split eye ring of the female Mourning just doesn't "pop" like the Connecticut's.  But in the field, it can be a real challenge to separate these two wonderful birds. 

Some fun facts about Photo #10...
This photo was Liked 365 times and shared more than 230 times on the BSBO Facebook page, and when Birds & Blooms Magazine shared it on their page, it was Liked more than 760 times!   

I hope you enjoyed these comparison shots.  We feel honored each day that we are fortunate enough to spend time in the field with these amazing creatures, and I know you feel the same way. Many thanks to the research team at BSBO for the incredible work that they do for birds.  This work would not be possible without the support of dozens of amazing volunteers that help our research staff conduct these studies. 

Thanks for reading, and remember, BIRDS RULE!

35 comments:

  1. Awesome post Kimberly! I'm saddened to say, but I did not get all of the IDs correct. I need to spend more time in the field!

    Those Vireo and Warbler comparisons are especially telling and afford such a great reference between the species. I'll be cross-checking any pertinent photos with this post for some time!

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  2. Thanks, Laurence! To be honest, having the bird in the hand is not always all that helpful in terms of field ID, but it CAN be very helpful in showing us the make-up of some of the most distinctive field marks. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. (And for the record, I had to research some of the birds before I labeled them!)

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  3. Very cool post Kimberly! I've had similar experiences visiting the Idaho Bird Observatory. I think bird observatories like yours are wonderful ambassadors for birds to humankind. Great work!

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    1. Thanks, Robert! It's great to be back on BiF. Kenn and I have visited with the staff at Idaho Bird Observatory and they do great work. Bird observatories are great resources for learning about birds!

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  4. The Oreo thing really cracks me up! I'm glad I am not the only one that hears that from people all the time. They never like it when I tell them that Wild Birds Unlimited is not the place to find Oreos but they would be better off at the grocery store!

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    1. Hadn't realized that this new feature allows us to reply to individual comments; how cool!! As I mentioned below, I was hoping Chad would see this post, since I know he likes Oreos AND Orioles! ;-)

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  5. Thanks, Kimberly - *and* BirdingIsFun! This is not just a great test but also a good training post. It does spoil us, giving us so much time to study and compare these usually flittery little birds.... Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Ellen! It does kind of spoil us, doesn't it? But it also shows why birding is so engaging. It isn't easy, it takes a lot of time, patience, and skill to be able to ID lots of different birds, especially those that are so similar!

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  6. This is brilliant!! Very educational seeing these groups together like thi, especially female Mourning Warbler!

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    1. Thanks, Lee! I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos!

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  7. That was really educational, Kimberly. And by the way---you really have one proud Mama down here at Autumnwood. Just thought I would tell you that.

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    1. Thanks, Mary Lee! I don't know if you saw my comment (below) but my mom could never be as proud of me as I am to be her daughter. She's my favorite person in the whole wide world! Please give her a hug from me! Thanks for reading my post and taking time to comment!

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  8. Outstanding post and photos Kim!.I had a wonderful time at The Biggest Week, and I can't wait until next year! It was wonderful to meet you and to see so many beautiful birds and so many happy birders. It was an excellent festival, and you were an absolute marvel of organization and endurance. I'm still missing the Ohio birds and the Ohio birders. Sending big hugs to everyone!! xoxox

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    1. Thanks, Linda! As I told Rob, I hadn't realized we could now reply directly to comments. (Maybe we could all along and I was just to silly to notice!) ;-)
      Anyway, in case you didn't see it: Linda: You were a huge part of making the Biggest Week such a success - and helping to make it as fun as is legal in NW Ohio! I sincerely hope that you'll come back and be a part of our team next year!
      Thanks so much!

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    2. I'm already making plans to return next year!

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  9. Sweet post! I got everything right but the flycatcher...and so my love/hate relationship with them continues.

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    1. Thanks so much, Steve! I know just what you mean about flycatchers! I've probably banded more than 1000 of them - and they aren't much easier even when you have them in your hand!

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  10. Amazing. I thought only love birds could be held by the hand:)

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  11. Hey, thanks everyone! Banding increases our understanding of birds in so many ways, and it's so fun to share things like this with people. I wondered if that Least Flycatcher would blow some minds, I'm not afraid to admit that it blew mine for a few minutes! ;-)

    Mary Lee Creager: My mom could never be as proud of me as I am to be her daughter. She's my favorite person in the whole wide world! Please give her a hug from me!

    Linda: You were a huge part of making the Biggest Week such a success - and helping to make it as fun as is legal in NW Ohio! I sincerely hope that you'll come back and be a part of our team next year!

    Thanks again, everyone!

    ~kimmer

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  12. Just saw the comment from Rob...
    Hey Rob! I thought for sure my Oreo caption would spur a comment from our friend Chad! :-) Thanks for sharing my blog post on Facebook and for your kind words about it. I'm very blessed to have a wealth of amazing photos at BSBO that I can use to help spread the word that BIRDS RULE!

    Thanks for all that you've done to support BSBO, the Ohio Young Birders Club, and the Biggest Week! You're the best!

    ~kimmers

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  13. Thanks for the education Kim! Those photos are awesome.

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  14. Outstanding! These comparison photographs really do assist in the identification process. Each and every bird is gorgeous!

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    2. Thanks so much, Julie! I'm totally loving your latest post!

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  15. Thanks for sharing these photos and pointing out the identifying differences. Love your site!

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    1. Thanks for reading my post! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  16. Thanks, Jeremy and Julie! It's great to be back on BiF after a very long (but totally awesome) month of May!

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  17. Baltimore Oreos! A classic is 'ere enshrined.

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    1. Just don't dip 'em in milk, Jason! ;-)

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    2. The Halloween Oreos could be called Baltimore Oreos :-D

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  18. This was a great quiz! I seem to lost all but the most obvious of the eastern birds from my brain =X Time to dust off the little gray cells again...

    Looking forward to meeting you next month, Kim!

    -heidi

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    1. Thanks, Heidi! Can't wait to meet you!

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  19. This is an amazing post and very, very helpful as well! Congrats on all the "likes" and thanks for all the good work you do. I hope someday I can visit this place.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kathy! I'm so happy you found it helpful. The number one reason we band birds is to increase our knowledge and understanding of their needs to help them. But banding can also be very helpful to birders, too! Thanks for reading my post and taking the time to leave such a nice comment!

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