- Birding skill #1: Use your ears.
- Birding skill #2: Think habitat.
- Birding skill #3: Watch for behavioral cues.
I encourage you to read her post to learn how she applied these skills, and others, to the challenge at hand. She concluded:
Perhaps the best way to develop identification skills is not by being told what species is in front of you and then watching it, but by being presented with an unfamiliar species and figuring out what cues might distinguish it from other species.In birding as in life, isn't this true? Figure something out for yourself and you've really "got" that bird, or that math problem, or the way to set up your computer or stereo system.
Deb identified the birds she saw that day, by the way, as white-winged crossbills, which I've never seen. We could see them here in the winter. Their crossed bills are nicely adapted for prying seeds out of the cones of pines and other coniferous trees.