ID Tip: Yellowlegs & Stilt Sandpipers

Like many species of waterbirds, shorebirds often fly in mixed flocks. Call me crazy, but looking through a mixed flock of fast-moving birds trying to sort out all the species involved is one of my favorite things to do. It can be quite a challenging exercise and requires concentration, stable optics and the ability to judge size and shape quickly. Personally, I’ve always had difficulty picking out Stilt Sandpipers in distant flocks of Yellowlegs. During the fall, flocks of Yellowlegs are frequently seen flying in and out marshy wetlands. In many areas these flocks may include a few Stilt Sandpipers…

ID Tip: Large Terns

I was out at Tybee Island, Georgia over the weekend and was able to get some good comparison shots of Royal and Caspian Terns. These are the two largest terns in North America (Caspian is the largest tern in the world), and though they are quite different, they can still occasionally be confused. At least they can be confused until you see comparison photos like these! In the first photo the Royal Tern is on the left and the Caspian on the right. Royal Tern has a bill shaped like a dagger blade while Caspian has a bill like a…