I was out for a late Winter walk and I came upon a bird standing in a stream.
"Is it a pigeon?" I wondered.
I didn't think it was a pigeon, but I did what I always do in such a situation. I took three billion pictures of the bird until it flew away. Somewhere along the way in that I identified the bird as a hawk... of...some...kind.
I'm super good at bird identification!
Here is what I have learned about bird identification for the, er, non professional birder:
There are always 10 or 15 birds around that are easy to identify, like where I live; bald eagle, robin, blue jay, turkey vulture, cardinal, turkey, etc. Most people around here know what these birds are without needing to consult thick and detailed guides.
For everything else you can just look your bird up anywhere, a book, the Internet, a phone app, whatever, and you quickly find:
A. Your bird does not exist.
B. Your bird can be one of two birds.
So I don't even try to identify my birds. I take my best picture to my co-worker who is an avid birder. And I ask "What is it?".
Here is my bird: