Identifying birds

image - Brochures on bird ID.
Birds Queensland Brochures on Bird Identification
© I. & J. Brown
Use of illustrated brochures
Specialised identification tables
graphic - Satin Bowerbird
Male Satin Bowerbird moulting into full breeding plumage © V. Jones

How to identify birds

Bird identification can be difficult, even for experienced birders, and many discussions occur during group walks and camps on this subject.  Reference books are most useful and our separate reference page details a range of books that you may be able to find at your local library to learn about and to identify our Australian birds.

In addition, Birds Queensland has a number of aids which may help both beginners and experienced birders to know exactly which bird they have seen.

Bird identification courses

Bird Identification Courses are offered from time to time depending on interest.  In 2014, a Wetland Bird ID Course was held and consideration is being given to offering another course in 2015.  If you are interested in any of our ID courses, please  and also check this website from time to time.

Use of illustrated brochures and websites

Birds Queensland publishes a brochure to help in identifying birds:

  • This is a comprehensive brochure (PDF, 974 KB). It contains color illustrations of and brief notes on 80 species of birds seen primarily in south-east Queensland, many of which can also be seen elsewhere in the State. Printed copies of the brochure can be obtained from Birds Queensland.

There are a number of other organisations providing useful guides for bird identification:

  • Moreton Bay Regional Council has produced a brochure (PDF, 1400KB) with colour images of birds of Pumicestone Passage to provide information about and help in the identification of shorebirds.  These can also be obtained from this Council.
  • John Young Wildlife Enterprises produced a colour brochure (PDF, 1400KB) on birds of tropical north Queensland for Townsville Enterprise Ltd.  It provides illustrations of birds of the tropical north.
  • For help in identifying Australian birds, the website, Birds in backyards, provides detailed information on many Australian birds.  It is sponsored by Birds Australia and the Australian Museum.  The Bird Finder tool assists in identifying species.

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image - Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
© I. & J. Brown

Specialised identification tables

For those concerned with the finer points of identification, there are some useful tables that assist in the differentiation of certain bird species which can be easily confused.  These tables are based on those originally prepared by Bob Forsyth from Mount Isa.  The following links lead to these tables kept as small pdf files:

Bob Forsyth suggests the printing out and photocopying of these tables on a laser printer if you need to take them into the field, as ink jet ink is water soluble.

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