Bird ID Page - The Center for Rehabilitation Of Wildlife - The CROW

Bird ID

Found a Bird??
What to do if you find a Baby Bird or injured Adult Bird
Page to help identify nestling or fledgling birds by sight | sound
Find a rehabilitator.

Sounds and Images of Some Common Nestling, Fledgling, and Juvenile Birds.
Check here for identification by visual clues.
This is the beginning of our young bird sound collection. These are some of the most commonly found birds. Hopefully this page will help rehabilitators identify the species they have so they can give the bird proper care and feeding. A note on the recordings: We don't have high quality equipment - so some recordings may have lost the higher frequencies. Some birds - like nestling Eastern Phoebes - we just couldn't record at all! If anyone has high-end audio recording equipment that they would like to lend / donate for this project - please contact us! We'd also like to add any other young bird recordings you might have. All un-credited files are recorded from birds at The CROW.

The CROW receives NO Federal or State funding of any kind. The CROW depends upon contributions from individuals to fund its wildlife rehabilitation and education efforts.
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Files are MP3 audio for faster download. We do have WAV format recordings for those who don't have MP3 player software. The WAV files are much larger! Select any thumbnail image to view larger picture.

Corvids: Crows & Jays

CrowsAmerican Crow Fledgling begging / eating (yum-yum sound) followed by "I'm not hungry" squeaks

JaysBlue Jay Fledgling begging / eating (note the similarity to the crow recording)

Thrush Family: Robins, bluebirds, 'woodland' thrushes

American Robin 12-14 day-old nestling begging.

RobinsAmerican Robin Fledglings (6) begging mixed with "shike... shike-poke" call

BluebirdEastern Bluebird Fledgling begging

Hawks & Falcons: Buteos, accipiters, falcons

KestrelAmerican Kestrel Fledgling begging followed by "kek-kek" call


B&W WarblerBlack & White Warblers??? Nestlings (5) begging with European Starlings squalling in background


Sol Vireo?Solitary Vireo??? (NOT a Red-eyed Vireo) - Late nestling call

Flycatchers: Phoebes & tyrants

GC FlycatcherGreat-crested Flycatcher Nestling begging with "wreep" call


FlickerNorthern (yellow-shafted) Flicker Begging / eating / quiet call

DownyDowny Woodpecker Late nestlings begging mixed with adult "pic" calls.


H. FinchHouse Finch Fledglings (5) begging (call is the same but less vigorous)


Song SparrowSong Sparrow Late nestling begging


SwiftChimney Swift Late nestlings (4) begging

Identifying Nestling / Fledgling and Adult Birds by Sight.

Adult birds are fairly easily identified using any of the major field guides to bird identification. Young birds are much more difficult to identify. Sometimes the species of bird is very important to know in order to feed the young bird the proper foods. We will focus for now on identifying the birds that require special care, and the birds they are often confused with. We will also attempt to point out basic characteristics of general catergories of birds that can all be treated in much the same way.

Bird 'specifications': Throughout you will read references to size. For uniformity, all size references will refer to the body only! Head, neck and tail will not be included. We use this method with young birds because often the head is over-developed, the neck under-developed or the tail non-existant.
Color: The bird must be divided into logical segments in order to refer to its color in any way that will make sense. Head is the area above the eyes - from base of upper beak to upper neck. Throat is the 'chin' area at the base of the lower beak. Back is from the base of neck to the base of the tail - between and above the wings. Wings are... well... the wings! Tail is the tail. Chest is the area visible between and under the closed wings. Underwing is the area under the closed wing. Belly is the area between and around the legs. Undertail is the small but important area behind the legs under the tail.

Color of birds is where we hear some of the most outrageous descriptions. We've heard extraordinary colors attributed to the drab house sparrow - you'd think you were hearing the description of the most splendid of exotic birds. Anyway... color too needs some definition. There is the 'background' color which is the dominant 'field' color of the birds body (not including wings or tail). To see this color, cross your eyes a bit and look at the bird with your peripheral vision. This way you won't get confused with details. Spots are usually at the tips of feathers. Spot color can be sometimes be important in identifying a bird - but mostly it just causes confusion! It's best just to think something like: "It has dark spots on it's chest" and not get too caught up in thinking about them.
Wings & tail should be inspected for their own clues. Aside from the 'field' color of the wings and tail, one of the most important markings to look for is 'wing bars' These ( typically one or two) are crescent shaped marks running vertically up the sides of the wings (when folded). The presence, absence, and color of wing-bars can be important for correct ID. Wing 'patches' - usually located father out on the wing than wing bars (if any) - will confirm the ID of the few species that have them.
Tail outer edges and tips can yield useful clues also.

Select any 'thumbnail' image to view a larger version.

Baby Ducks and GeeseDucks & Goose

In non-coastal New England, the most commonly found baby "ducks" are the Mallard, Black Duck, Wood Duck, and Canada Goose {certainly NOT a duck, but included here for comparison}. This group provides a perfect example of some fairly easily confused species, one of which requires special care different from the other three, who are relatively easy to care for. In this case, the Mallard, Black Duck and Canada Goose are all fairly easy to raise. The Wood Duck presents some difficulty. Fortunately, if you treat them all as if they were Wood Ducks, everything should be fine. See the section about temporary care of precocial birds.
Note that baby Mallards and Black Ducks {not shown} look alike and can be treated in the same way.

The "Sharp-bills" - small sized 'perching' birds or 'songbirds'.
 Eastern Bluebird
Great-creasted Flycatcher
 Common Grackle
 Eastern Phoebe

This large group includes several unrelated families of birds. They all share the trait of having rather pointed, thin-ish beaks. They also have similar feeding habits - so can be readily 'clumped' together as far as temporary care and feeding are concerned. Note that some have wide & flat beaks (flycathers), others heavier (common grackle) but not hooked or conical (some birds may have a tiny hook at the very tip - used to secure their insect prey).

The "Wedge-bills"

Birds with heavy conical to wedge-shaped beaks used for cracking seeds. Of course most of them eat insects and fruits too. Almost all feed their nestlings a diet of insects.

The "Sword-bills" - larger sized birds

This group is comprised mostly of the fish-eating birds - Herons, Egrets, etc.

The "Hook-bills" - larger sized birds

Mostly carnivorous 'birds-of-prey'. You'd think these guys were unmistakable - not so! We've had finches, pidgeons, doves, and other small birds confused with eveything from peregrine falcons to red-tailed hawks!

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