If you want to learn about birds, watch them. Don’t just identify them and move on to the next bird. Keep on looking at them. So many people, if you ask them, does a Robin have an eye ring? They might not get it right.
A seasoned pair of Leica binoculars. Despite not being in perfect focus, I'm sharing this shot as a reminder that all photographs aren't perfect- it's up to the photographer to master the settings and composition to orchestrate a perfect shot.

A seasoned pair of Leica binoculars. Despite not being in perfect focus, I'm sharing this shot as a reminder that all photographs aren't perfect- it's up to the photographer to master the settings and composition to orchestrate a perfect shot.

To illustrate a point, Chris asked me this thought-provoking question about a simple field mark on a very common bird: the American Robin. I knew the answer, but had to think about it hard. To identify 700 species, I continually study field guides and learn the possibilities of what thrushes could show up in North America- Fieldfare, Redwing, Dusky Thrush, Aztec Thrush... but did I know all of our thrushes to the same degree of detail? How well do I know the common species? Could I pick out a Bicknell's Thrush by sight on migration in early May along the Atlantic coast, instead of making a special trip to New England?  Time (and luck) will tell! 

 

Adult American Robins have an incomplete or broken eye-ring, in case you were wondering. 

Adult American Robins have an incomplete or broken eye-ring, in case you were wondering.