It happens to even the most experienced, well-read, well-traveled, well-equipped birder. It’s both exciting and frustrating, an opportunity to grow and learn or a blockade that can discourage and dampen even the most joyous enthusiasm.
It might be a distant sighting in poor light where there just isn’t enough detail to be sure of the bird’s identification. It could be a strange posture that looks like more than one bird and it’s just too hard to distinguish which one it might be. It could be a foreign bird spotted when a field guide isn’t nearby. It could even be a blocked view, a fast-moving feathered blur, or just a confusing bird you aren’t sure about.
I can help.
I’ve helped identify birds on every continent except one (I’m still waiting for someone to ask for help from Antarctica). I have a library of 65+ field guides covering every bird species on the planet, plus a way with words for online searches and photo comparisons. My eye for detail has been honed through years of strange jobs and rewarding hobbies that require extreme focus and attention, including drafting training and circuit board design, cross stitch embroidery, interior design, and keeping amusement park midways spotless with a broom and dustpan (you’d be amazed at the effort required to find every cigarette butt, discarded napkin, and forgotten french fry in a 364-acre amusement park).
If you have a bird you just can’t decipher, I want to help. Email me with a photo, and I will enjoy the challenge of helping you puzzle out your mystery bird. For the best results…
- Submit larger photos so more details may be seen clearly. Do not crop or resize photos before sending.
- Submit multiple photos with different angles if possible to reveal different details and clues about the bird.
- Include as much information about the photos as you can, such as geographic location, habitat type, and date taken.
- Include notes about the bird’s behavior if possible, such as any distinctive movements, feeding habits, or postures.
- Attach photos to an email, preferably as .jpg or .jpeg formats. Send photos to BeYourOwnBirder@gmail.com.
These is no charge for this service, and your photos will not be used or published unless I specifically request your permission to do so. Please note, however, that I am a one-woman show with this blog, my career, home life, and all else that extends beyond birding, and it may occasionally take some time before I can respond to your request. And I won’t just send you an easy answer – I will share the same clues with you that I saw, so you can better understand each bird we identify and recognize them again in the future.
Where Have I Identified Birds?
While I’ve been identifying birds for many years, I’ve only begun recording the no-longer-mystery birds’ locations since launching this service with Be Your Own Birder in January 2019. This map highlights the general location of every bird I’ve identified since that time – submit more mystery birds to help add more green pointers to the globe!
Will I always be successful when confronted with a mystery bird? Probably not. Will I always try my hardest, using every resource I have to pin down a bird’s identity? Absolutely. Furthermore, you will never hear me demean any particular bird or refuse to help because of the type of birder you may be. We’re all our own birders, and learning to identify birds is part of the education principle universal to birding. Let’s grow as birders together!