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How do you remember subtle ID features? (1 Viewer)

Bluetail

Senior Moment
Reading the thread about the Herts Gray-cheeked Thrush, it occured to me that I'd forgotten most of the ID features for Bicknell's Thrush, so I read it up and posted the results. Trouble is, I'll I know have forgotten it all again within a couple of weeks. It's OK with the species you see every day: you can take notes, study the birds and keep your eye in. But how do you remember all the minutiae of the finer ID points for species you don't see regularly (if ever)? Are you one of those lucky people who can just mop up information like blotting paper, or do you have to work at it? And if the latter, have you got any tips to help make the information stick?
 

cuckooroller

Well-known member
Having a good memory certainly helps, but no one has that good of a memory. There are approx. 10,000 birds and innumerable subspecies within these with subtle differences. Throw into the mix differences due to age, sex, reproductive cycle, and molts. So, if you constantly see them you don't have to review them once you learn them, but for the others, even with a good memory, you have to review.
 

London Birder

Well-known member
Re: GC Thrush ~ wish I was more like blotting paper, in fact the only two features I could recall for seperating Bicknell's and GC Thrush were the two I mentioned, the tail and the bill ... hadn't remembered those additional points even though I'd read the Birding World article ...
 

Phalarope

Well-known member
I started birding late in life--an excellent excuse for not remembering all fieldmarks for all species encountered. I was once told (funny that I do remember this) that if you learn it before you are 12, it's yours forever; after that, plan on having to relearn it if you don't use/do it frequently.

The longer I've been a birder, the more things seem to be retained--but that is probably just a result of frequency. Now I only need to review about half the wood warblers' fieldmarks each spring (and again in autumn), and only need to review about three-quarters of the songs each season.

That's headway, but oohh, soooo slow.

As to tricks or methods of retention--for some things I have short phrases to help.
Example: Louisiana Waterthrush does a slow Cajun waltz (side-to-side) with the tail; Northern Waterthrush bounces that tail (more vertically) rapidly like a Yankee Clipper.

For that misnomered Ring-necked Duck, look for the Nike swoosh to distinguish it from the scaup.

Those things help, but much remains in fogland.

Good birding!
Phalarope
 

Keith Dickinson

Well-known member
Opus Editor
I'll be honest I have given up trying to make the info stick, I take a note book and take copious notes if I cannot id the bird immediately. Slowly I have found that more and more info IS sticking but I couldn't tell you why.
Try mnemonics etc, these work best when you devise them yourself, one I use is for ringed plovers; rob low (ringed orange bill, little no wingbar) stupid but I remember it. :t:
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Tim Allwood said:
sketching from memory

then checking in books

Tim


Isn't this thread about problems of poor memory to start with? :) In which case, the sketch might get as far as having two wings, perhaps an eye-stripe or wing bar here and there, then ...erm...forgot the rest.
 
Jos Stratford said:
Isn't this thread about problems of poor memory to start with? :) In which case, the sketch might get as far as having two wings, perhaps an eye-stripe or wing bar here and there, then ...erm...forgot the rest.

not in the field Jos!

look at a photo and sketch the bird with relevant id features, check when you get stuck then repeat

works pretty quickly

Tim :cool:
 

Phalarope

Well-known member
Tim Allwood said:
not in the field Jos!

look at a photo and sketch the bird with relevant id features, check when you get stuck then repeat

works pretty quickly

Tim :cool:

I gotta try this!

Now, lets see...the Sibley is, uhhhh.... and paper should be.... oh, no, I'll need a pencil, too....

That's why I keep the binoculars hanging on a chair by the door!

Phalarope
 

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