Birding and more...Newsletter
2010 / Issue 4



Learning to name the parts of a bird is easier than you may think. Most of the body parts are already very familiar: eye, leg, foot, wing, and tail for instance. Many of the names for the other body parts are intuitive: crown, throat, breast, bill, and wing bars to mention a few. There are only a handful of other significant terms that you’ll need to learn in order to ID birds with your field guide, and of course to impress other birders. smiley face

The following diagram shows the basics
Parts of a bird diagram

With waterfowl, there are some other body parts you should know:
MANTLE: the upper back
AURICULARS: side of the head, around the ear
SCAPULARS: feathers at the base of the wing, around the shoulder
FLANKS: the side of the belly
SPECULUM: a patch of distinctly coloured secondary wing feathers

In some cases there is more than one name for each body part:
TIBIA: thigh or upper leg
UPPER MANDIBLE: upper bill
LOWER MANDIBLE: lower bill

And to finish off:
EYE RING: a thin line of feathers that circle the eye
MEDIAN LINE: the feathers between the crown and the eye stripe

I think that's enough for now. Knowing these terms should make it possible for you to describe what you've seen and understand the descriptions that you'll read in your field guides, and perhaps it'll whet your appetite to dig even deeper into the topography of birds.


Picture of a Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl taken by Karen Ferreira
This was a first for Karen who described the owl as 'big and beautiful'.

Picture of a Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl taken by Chris Clarke
Ingrid and Chris were coming home from the mountains near their home in Alberta when they had this lucky encounter


QUESTION: What do the Snowy Owl and Great Gray Owl have in common?
(besides being owls)

ANSWER: They are the only large owls with yellow eyes.


The Readers Patch is a space for your photos, stories, and/or comments.
Send anything you'd like to share with us to:

Picture of a hawk
A hawk's vision is so good, it can spot a mouse from a height of one mile!

What's New this week at

New posts added to the Birding and more blog:

New pictures added to the Birds in the Wild gallery.

(some examples of birding lingo)

Your local birding area
SHARPIE: Sharp-shinned Hawk
LIFER: A bird that you've never seen before (adding it to your life list)

Eneloop rechargable batteries

Elaine and I both use digital cameras that require AA batteries, so we wanted to find a good rechargable that we couldEneloop batteries depend on. And boy did we ever! We discovered a battery made by Sanyo called 'eneloop'. These remarkable rechargables have never let us down. They come fully charged out of the package, they last for hundreds of shots, recharge quickly, hold their charge when not in use, and can be recharged a thousand times before they need to be replaced. The only fault we could find with these amazing batteries, is that they are not available in many stores. We got ours at Costco, and I think Dell carries them along with a few other distributors. But if you can find them, buy them. They are, in my opinion, the very best, and I highly recommend them.

I'm beginning to really get spring fever and can hardly wait to start planning additions to our garden! Lately I've been spending my free time re-reading one of my favourite birding/gardening books "Backyard Bird Secrets for Every Season" by Sally Roth. I find this book so informative (even though it's geared for the States) and extremely easy to read. As long as you know the "zone" you live in (we're in Zone 5) you can find much to apply to your situation. There are many tips about winter feeding and protection (some of which I've already passed on to you), and now I'm thinking about how to prepare for the spring migration and summer residents.

This year I'd like to put up a couple more birdhouses but I'd like to place them higher in the trees, maybe about 10 feet from the ground, andpicture of birdhouse hopefully tempt the woodpeckers and nuthatches who frequent our garden to actually live here. Every spring we go to the Maple Syrup Festival at Belmore (always the 2nd weekend in April) to enjoy an excellent pancake and sausage breakfast, and look at all the wares available at the various craft tables. There's usually one or more tables with hand-crafted birdhouses and feeders, and this year I'll be looking for just the perfect one for us! My problem is reining in my enthusiasm and controlling my desire for lots of birdhouses and feeders...smiley face  but I have to be realistic about the amount of space and location options, so wish me luck! Anyway, it will be a great time with family and something to look forward to while I dream of warmer weather and new green leaves and lots and lots of birds.

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    Copyright © 2010 Garry Kirsch                                                          

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