Types of Birds

Birding enthusiasts young and old anticipate the arrival of seasonal birds in their area in their never ending quest to add species after species to their life lists.

A discussion of the types of birds in North America starts by acknowledging the world's approximately ten thousand bird species organized into approximately thirty different orders.

The American Ornithologists' Union (OAU), the institutional standard setter for North American birds listed 2,078 species in twenty eight orders at year end 2011.

Given the fact that the OAU coverage area extends to Mexico and Central America, their list of North American birds doubles the number of bird species associated with North America proper, the area north of the United States-Mexico border.

The American Birding Association (ABA) picks up where the OAU ends, further sorting the OAU list into 969 species with at least an occasional visit to North America proper.

Assuming continued research, OAU members acknowledge that their particular approach to sorting different types of North American will eventually change, meaning the aggregate species numbers will change.

At the present time, almost one-half of North American bird species fit into the Passeriformes order, the perching birds. Passerines (sparrows, finches, cardinals, jays, crows, warblers and more), as they are collectively known, are the most common birds seen in residential areas and backyard feeders.

The ABA lists 38 different families. A spring time favorite, the colorful Wood-Warblers (Parulidae), leads the diversity category, with 57 species making at least an occasional or stray visit.

Ten separate families tie for the title of least diverse, having only one North American representative. Another eight native North American bird families count two species each.

Many birders consider these special birds because sighting one means adding an entire family of birds to their life list of North American birds.

One such bird, the Brown Creeper (Certhia americana),resides in woodlands across North America. Year round residents in much of their range, in their northern most range, along with mountain areas, they migrate short distances to warmer locations.

Creepers tend to walking up and down tree trunks and branches in search of insects and spiders, their primarily source of food.

picture of a Brown Creeper

The picture highlights the bird's brown mottled feathers that easily blend into a tree bark background.

Their decurved bill makes them an easily identified species.

Between bird diversity extremes lies a family like the Mockingbirds (Mimidae). Along with the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), the most popular state bird, North American Mimidae includes one dozen members, mostly thrashers.

How To Be A Birder

What does it mean to be a birder?

Short Answer: There are no hard and fast rules, it's all about the birds.

Bird lexicography has changed over time. What used to be called bird watching is now commonly called birding. Birders are people who fit somewhere on a spectrum that measures mild bird interest to major bird obsession. The stereotypical portrait of the birder with binoculars pointed to the treetops or sky still has validity. However, many people find non-binocular birding just as pleasant a hobby.

The saying, "the early bird catches the worm" applies equally to birders.

Most birds are diurnal, awake during the day and asleep during the night. When dawn breaks, many species greet the day, looking for food and exercise.

Birders who do not enjoy the idea of greeting the world at crack of dawn need not fret. Many species of birds are active throughout the day, although their numbers drop slightly as the day moves forward.

Birders often know where to bird. Consider the fact that birds live on every continent in the world. It's almost a certainty that at least a few species visit a birder's neighborhood. In fact, the ability to identify local birds represents a significant accomplishment.

The Internet provides great information on finding birding hot spots in any vicinity. Finding a hot spot can be as easy as searching on the terms, "birding - your area". Birding lists and forums attract interested individuals who share information about recent bird sightings in a specific area.

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