|Forest Birds ID card from "In the Bush" - now free to download|
Set yourself a bird-watching challenge: for example, take part in the New Zealand Garden Bird Survey on this week from 24 June to 2 July. Gardens are a good place to start because often birds are easier to see in a garden and you can learn bird-watching techniques (see tips below) that will help you when you are out in the forest, beach or wetland. The Top 10 birds in gardens in 2016 were:
- tauhou / silver eye
- myna bird (they are only found mid-upper North Island)
- pīwakawaka / fantail
- song thrush
- green finch
|The Top 9 garden birds are illustrated |
on pages 26-7 in "In the Garden"
TIP 1: Learn the relative size of birds. Birds may appear to have similar colouring so one of the best ways to identify birds by sight is to look at and learn the size of a bird, is it tiny, medium size or large? Here's a fun comparison of bird size - The Chocolate Fish Index. A handy field guide for adults Which New Zealand Bird? by Andrew Crowe organises birds by size and most other guides also give the size of the bird. My books for children all give the length of the bird in centimetres.
TIP 2: Learn how different birds move around and where they look for food. In the forest, it might be hard to see the bird colour or size but the movement or position of the bird can give a clue as to what bird it is. For example, if you see a black-coloured bird hopping about on the ground it is more likely to be a blackbird than a tūī. Tūī often fly high and then do a long swooping flight down and up again. Tauhou and pōpokatea (whitehead) usually feed in flocks in the canopy.
TIP 3: Learn some bird sounds. Kererū have noisy wing beats but don't sing. Riroriro (grey warbler) has a very long whistling trill. The Department of Conservation have an online resource to help you identify the 10 most common forest birds. For each bird it gives tips about the size and behaviour of the bird and also has recordings of the bird songs. NZ Birds Online also has recordings of other less common birds under each entry.
|Forest Birds ID card|
Department of Conservation Identifying Forest Birds resource http://www.doc.govt.nz/global/training-courses/bird-id/birds.html
The official Garden Bird Survey site has comprehensive information not just about how to do the survey but also activities for children and more bird identification tips: http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/science/plants-animals-fungi/animals/birds/garden-bird-surveys
NZ Birds Online http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz
About In the Bush, including tips for parents and educators and another source of the free downloadable ID card
Blackbird or Tui?
Counting Birds: New Zealand's 10 most common forest birds