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178 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

Common Loon

Gavia immer

Loons - common characteristics

Medium to large fish-eating birds

Long bodies, legs set well back on their bodies for greater swimming capability

Straight dagger-like bills

Nest on shorelines of lakes

Red-Throated Loon

Gavia stellata

Grebes - common characteristics

Similar to Loons, smaller with shorter necks

Small tail feathers are invisible under most conditions

Rarely fly

Build floating nests, hunt for small fish and aquatic animals

Pied-billed Grebe

Podilymbus podiceps

Horned Grebe

Podiceps auritus

Cormorants - common characteristics

Similar to Loons- only one species is commonly found in fresh water in Canada

Fly in large flocks like geese, but with necks "kinked"

Great swimmers, feed on fish

Double-Crested Cormorant

Phalacrocorax auritus

Double-Crested Cormorant

Phalacrocorax auritus

Examples and characteristics of wading birds

Ex. Egrets, Herons, Bitterns

Long-legged shoreline wading birds

Most have long necks, ad long pointed bills to spear fish/frogs/other prey

Vary in size, from medium to very large birds

American Bittern

Botarus lentiginosus

**check thin stripes on throat,

Least Bittern

Ixobrychus exilis

Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias

Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias

Great Egret

Ardea alba

Great Egret

Ardea alba

Green Heron

Butorides virescens

Black-crowned Night Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax

Waterfowl -- examples & common characteristics

Swans, Geese, Dabbling/Puddle Ducks, Diving Ducks

Swans and geese: males and females are same colour

Ducks: males are very different colour from females

Migrate in groups

Breed, nest, feed in or around water

Legs set under body for swimming on swans, geese and dabbling ducks

Legs set further back on diving ducks for greater swimming ability

What behaviour do you expect if you sneak up on a dabbling duck? A diving duck?

Dabbling ducks: fly away

Diving ducks: "run" away, dive

Trumpeter Swan

Cygnus buccinator

*All black bill, point @ forehead, larger than tundra swan

Tundra Swan

Cygnus columbianus

*Some yellow in bill, round at forehead, smaller than trumpeter swan

Mute Swan

Cygnus olor

*Introduced species

Canada Goose

Branta canadensis

Snow Goose

Chen caerulescens

*Blue phase and white phase

Black Duck

Anas rubripes


Anas platyrhynchos


Anas acuta

Blue-winged Teal

Anas discors

Blue-winged Teal

Anas discors

Green-winged Teal

Anas crecca

Green-winged Teal

Anas crecca

Wood Duck

Aix sponsa


Aythyra valisineria

Common Goldeneye

Bucephala clangula


Bucephala albeola

Common Merganser

Mergus merganser

Hooded Merganser

Lophodytes cucullatus

Diurnal Raptors -- examples and characteristics

Eagles, Hawks, Kites, True Falcons

Upright body shape, aerial hunters, many soar from long distances, carnivorous, top predators, long talons & hooked beaks

Northern Harrier

Circus cyaneus

*Moth-Like fliers, open field huter, female buff/brown, males grey, VERY distinct white rump in flight

*Only hawk with facial discs

Northern Harrier

Circus cyaneus

*Moth-Like fliers, open field huter, female buff/brown, males grey, VERY distinct white rump in flight

*Only hawk with facial discs

Eagles - examples and characteristics

Bald and Golden

Largest raptors in N. America

Both have dark bodies

Broad, rounded wings; broad, wide tails

Large, round heads, obvious hooked beak, large talons

Easiest to identify from other Raptors due to size (2m wingspan)

Early distinguished from each other as adults

Bald Eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Bald Eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos

Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos

Northern Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

*Forest hunters, Pursuing birds through trees or ambushing in woodlands

Cooper's Hawk

Accipiter cooperi

*Forest hunters, Pursuing birds through trees or ambushing in woodlands

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Accipiter striatus

*Forest hunters, Pursuing birds through trees or ambushing in woodlands

Name 3 types of hawks from Accipiter genus, and their shared characteristics

Northern Goshawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk

Forest hunters, Pursuing birds through trees or ambushing in woodlands

Name hawks from Buteo genus, and their common characteristics

-Mid- to large sized raptors

-Wide variety of species and colouration, habitats, and hunting styles

-Broad, rounded wings; short, wide tails

-Large, round heads

-Easier to identify in flight

Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis

Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis

Broad-winged Hawk

Buteo platypterus

*Wide, round wings, outlined black. Broad black and white bands on short tail

Broad-Winged Hawk

Buteo platypterus

*Wide, round wings, outlined black. Broad black and white bands on short tail


Pandion haliaetus

*Dark upper, white under, dark stripe on face, always found around water sources, nest on hydro lines

Name 4 True Falcons and their common characteristics

Merlin, American Kestrel, Gyrfalcon, Peregrine Falcon

-More aerodynamic shape than hawks in flight, with long, pointed wings, fast fliers, tails long, At/past wing tips in perched

American Kestrel

Falco sparverius

Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus


Falco columbarius


Falco columbarius

Turkey Vulture

Cathartidae aura

*Carrion feeders, find food by small, often seen soaring or roosting in groups, "wobbly" soar with wings in "V" pattern

Turkey Vulture

*Carrion feeders, find food by small, often seen soaring or roosting in groups, "wobbly" soar with wings in "V" pattern

Upland Game Birds -- examples and characteristics

Quail, Grouse, Pheasant, Ptarmigan

Chicken-like, ground dwelling birds. Many roost in trees, but usually on ground. Well camouflaged/secretive birds, explosive take off when disturbed, elaborate courtship displays in some species

Spruce Grouse

Falcipennis canadensis

Ruffled Grouse

Bonasa umbellus

Ring-Necked Pheasant

Phasianus colchius

Wild Turkey

Meleagris gallopavo

Cranes - common characteristics and examples

-All inhabit marshy wetlands

-Flock/group birds -- feed and fly together like geese (this is unlike herons)

-Cranes are tall birds

-Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Grus canadensis

Shorebirds - characteristics and examples

-Small to medium sized birds with thin bills and long legs

-Eat aquatic insects, worms, etc.

-Semipalmated plover, black-bellied plover, American woodcock, Killdeer, common snipe,

Semipalmated Plover

Charadrius semipalmatus

Black-bellied Plover

Pluvialis squatarola

Common Snipe

Gallinago gallinago


Charadrius vociferus

*Double black stripe, red eye, broken wing decoy


Charadrius vociferus

*Double black stripe, red eye, broken wing decoy

American Woodcock

Scolopax minor

*Found in damp, brushy wooded areas rather than shorelines

*Mating displays in open fields

*Does that funny dance-walk

Pigeons and Doves- common characteristics and examples

-seed and fruit eaters

-bob head when they walk

-found in groups or pairs

-All species have low cooing calls

-Mourning Dove, Rock dove

Mourning Dove

Zenaida macroura

Rock Dove

Columba livia

Owls - common characteristics and examples

-Largely nocturnal hunters

-Upright body position, large eyes, facial discs, well camouflaged

-Sharp talons and hooked beaks

-Cavity nesters (exception barn and burrowing owls)

Snowy Owl

Nyctea scandiaca

*predominantly northern dweller, heaviest owl

Snowy Owl

Nyctea scandiaca

Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus

*Large owl, yellow eyes, ear tufts, use existing nests or cavities/ledges/manmade platforms

Great Gray Owl

Strix nebulosa

*No ear tufts, overall gray colouration, FACIAL DISCS, forest hunters

Barred Owl

Strix varia

*Black eyes, brown/buff, DARK/black eyes, forest hunter

Long-eared Owl

Asio otus

*Medium sized, slender, long ear tufts, white X on face with orange facial discs, forest hunter

Eastern Screech Owls

Megascops asio

*small, ear tufts, hunt in forests, cavity nesters, 2 colour morphs

Eastern Screech Owl

Megascops asio

*small, ear tufts, hunt in forests, cavity nesters, 2 colour morphs

Barn Owl

Tyto alba

*Open field predator, hunts rodents, distinctive colouration with white facial discs and belly, cream above and on wings

Swifts and Nighthawks - characteristics and examples

-Nighthawks largely nocturnal hunters, eat insects

-Nighthawks = well camo'd, Swifts=solid colour

Common nighthawk, E. whip-poor-will, Chimney Swift

Common Nighthawk

Chordeiles minor

*Check white tuft on underside of shoulder

Common Nighthawk

Chordeiles minor

*Check white markings on underside of wing, and white stripe along bottoms of tail feathers

Eastern Whip-Poor-Will

Caprimulgus vociferus

*Part of Nighthawk family

Chimney Swift

Chaetura pelagica

*Long ass wing feathers, unable to perch, cling on walls

Chimney Swift

Chaetura pelagica

*Unable to perch, cling on walls instead

Hummingbirds - common characteristics and example

-Long bills, short tails, long wings

-Tiny birds

-Hover in flight

-Feed on nectar

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Archilocus colubris

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Archilocus colubris

Woodpeckers - common characteristics and examples

-Stiff tail feathers (used to prop themselves up on tree)

-Use beaks to peel and chisel wood

-Cavity nesters

-Downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker, black-backed woodpecker, Northern flicker, Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Pileated woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Picoides pubescens

*Nearly identical to Hairy Woodpecker, smaller

Hairy Woodpecker

Picoides villosus

*Nearly identical to Downy Woodpecker, bigger

Three-Toed Woodpecker

Picoides dorsalis

*White markings down side of wing, small yellow cap

Black-Backed Woodpecker

Picoides arcticus

*Yellow cap, black wing

Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus

Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus varius

*Female (no red markings on throat)

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus varius

*Red cap, red marking on throat (male), yellow on belly, and bright white feathers on wing

Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus

*Slicked-back hairdo, red markings on beak (male)

Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus

*Larger than other woodpeckers, sweet hairdo

Corvids - characteristics and examples

-Considered most intelligent bird species

-Tool users, medium to large, long tailed, noisy/aggressive

-Bulky nests in trees


-Gray Jay, American Crow, Common Raven

Gray Jay

Perisoreus canadensis

American Crow

Corvus bracyrhynchos

Common Raven

Corvus corax

Swallows - characteristics and examples

-Flocking birds

-Smooth flight with pointed wings and forked tails


-varied nests

Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Bank Swallow, Tree Swallow

Purple Martin

Progne subis

*swallow family

Tree Swallow

Tachycineta bicolor

Bank Swallow

Riparia riparia

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Chickadee family - characteristics and examples

Black-capped chickadee, boreal chickadee,

Black-capped Chickadee

Poecile atricapilla

*Black cap defining feature

Boreal Chickadee

Poecile hudsonica

*brown cap, orangey underside

Nuthatches - characteristics and examples

-Small, short tailed, long billed birds

-Feed on insects on trees head down

-Cavity nesters-Undulated flight pattern

Red-Breasted Nuthatch, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Sitta canadensis

* females have grey crowns instead of black

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Sitta carolinensis

* Females have grey crowns instead of black

Brown Creeper

Certhia americana

*Part of nuthatch family

Wrens - characteristics and examples

-small, brown, camouflaged active birds

-creep through vegetation

-distinctive tail raised above their backs

-erratic flight

-cavity nesters

House Wren, Winter Wren

House Wren

Troglodytes aedon

Winter Wren

Troglodytes hiemalis

Kinglets - common characteristics and examples

-small, insectivorous

-Nest in small "cup" nests in branches of trees

ex. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Regulus calendula

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Regulus satrapa

Thrushes - characteristics and examples

-Diverse group of brids

-Usually song birds


-Nest in grass and mud cup on a branch

-Strong, smooth flight pattern

Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, American Robin, Veery

Eastern Bluebird

Sialia sialis


Mountain Bluebird

Sialia currucoides


American Robin

Turdus migratorius



Catharus fuscescens


Starlings - characteristics and examples

-Often found in huge flocks - feed on berries and insects

-Iridescent feathers with white spots on back and breast

-Cavity nesters

-Only one species in Ontario - European Starling

European Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

Waxwings - Characteristics and examples

-Unique, sleek look, pointed wings, crest of feathers

-Yellow-tipped tails , red tips on wing feathers

-Found in flocks except when nesting

Bohemian Waxwing, Cedar Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing

Bombycilla garullus

*Note the yellow, red, AND white colouration on wings

Cedar Waxwing

Bombycilla cedrorum

*Note there is only red colouration, some white on wing

Wood Warblers - Characteristics and examples

-Males generally similar to females

-Variable plumage

-Forest species

-Small song birds, insectivores

Black-and-White Warbler, Black-Throated Blue Warbler, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Setophaga caerulescens

Black-Throated Green Warbler

Setopaga virens

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Setophaga pensylvanica

Black-and-White Warbler

Mniotilta varia

Cardinals & Allies - Characteristics and examples

-Crested, long-tailed, medium sized birds

-Stout bills -- triangular

-Seed feeders

-Loud, melodic

ex. Northern Cardinal, Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Piranga olivacea

*Male, red body, black wings

Scarlet Tanager

Piranga olivacea


Northern Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis

*Male, crest on crown, red bill

Northern Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis

*Female, crest on crown, red bill

Sparrows & allies - characteristics and examples

-Ground dwelling, brown camo'd

-Feeds on seeds in winter, insects in summer

-Nest in a cup in low bushes/ground

ex. Field Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Juno, Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

Piplio erythrophthalamus

*Dot on eye, orangey-brown colouration under wing, ally of sparrow family

Dark-eyed Junco

Junco hyemalis

*Oregon morph, ally of sparrow family

Field Sparrow

Spizella pusilla

*White eye ring, unmarked breast, pink bill

American Tree Sparrow

Spizella pusilla

*Dark chest spot on breast, bicoloured bill

White-Throated Sparrow

Zonotricha albicollis

*White throat, grey bill

White-Crowned Sparrow

Zonotricha leucophrys

*No white throat, yellow bill

Dark-Eyed Junco

Junco hyemalis

*Slate coloured morph, ally of sparrows

Icterids - Common characteristics and examples

-Slender pointed bills, found in grassy areas, flocks/mixed flocks, feed on grain and insects

ex. Larks, Bobolinks, Cowbirds, Blackbirds, Grackles, Orioles

Eastern Meadowlark

Sturnella magna

*Black V on chest


Dolichonyx oryziorus

*White fro, white butt

Brown-headed Cowbird

Molothrus ater

*Kind of a dick-head, nest parasite bird

Common Grackle

Quiscalus quiscula

*Iridescent colouring -- like an oil slick. Yellow eye distinctive feature

Red-Winged Blackbird

Ageliaus phoeniceus

*They are a black bird with a red wing

Rusty Blackbird

Euphagus carolinus

*Yellow eyeball

Baltimore Oriole

Icterus galbula

*Orange chest, white stripe on black wing, unique hanging nest

Family Fringillidae -- characteristics and examples

-Tree dwelling, brown, camo'd, drab colouring, congregate in large flocks

ex. Finches, grosbeaks, old world sparrows

Evening Grosbeak

Coccothraustes vespertinus

*Large head and bill, yellow eyebrow, white wing bar, yellow and black distinctive

Pine Grosbeak

Pinicola enucleator

*Grey-red overall, large dark bill

Purple Finch

Carpodacus prupureus

*Extensive burgundy/white colour on head, break and back. White undertail coverts, grey bill

House Finch

Carpodacus mexicanus

*Bright red on head and breast, heavy streaks on flanks, grey bill

Common Redpoll

Carduelis flammea

*Dark burgundy/wine cap on forehead, pink breast, streaked sides, yellow bill

American Goldfinch

Carduelis tristis

*White breast and belly, black, yellow, and white wings

Pine Siskin

Carduelis pinus

*finch family, streaked brown overall, yellow wing bars, brown "half moon" on face, thin grey bill

Anatomy of a Bird

Anatomy of a Bird

1) Crown

2) Nostril

3) Upper Beak

4) Lower Beak



7) Wing

8) Side

9) Belly

10) Thigh

11) Leg

12) Undertail Coverts

13) Tail

14) Uppertail Coverts

15) Rump

16) Back

17) Nape

18) Head