All shapes and sizes

The shape of a bird is one of the key features that helps you differentiate between species of birds, thus narrowing down the choices considerably. If you believe a bird to have the shape of a warbler then you've already eliminated dozens of birds.

When looking at the shape, or silhouette, of a bird you should take note of the bill, the tail and the overall shape of the bird. For example, the Carolina Wren pictured below can be described as the following:

  • small but plump body
  • short tail
  • short beak, slender beak
  • body weight that is distributed forward, causing the Wren to appear to be sitting on its stomach (versus sparrows and finches that have their weight more evenly distributed
Carolina Wren

Whereas the American White Ibis has:

  • a long neck
  • slim but long body
  • long legs
  • a long, curved beak
American White Ibis

If you're feeling lost, don't worry! Of course you'll need to be more familiar with birds to really differentiate between shapes and features of various birds. But as you go along, you will see yourself becoming more and more knowledgable about birds.