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To identify distant waterbirds, learn their flocking behavior

At the upper right, a large and densely packed group of Ruddy Ducks rests with tails raised while two Ruddy Ducks actively forage at left (with tails down). In the foreground is a typically loose and small group of resting Pied-billed Grebes. Art by David Sibley
In winter, identifying waterbirds is often challenging because the birds are too far away to see details. Understanding flocking behavior can help.
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David Sibley

David Sibley

David Sibley writes the column “ID Toolkit” in every issue of BirdWatching. He published the Sibley Guide to Birds in 2000, the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior in 2001, and Sibley’s Birding Basics in 2002. He is also the author of the Sibley Guide to Trees (2009), the Sibley Guide to Birds-Second Edition (2014), guides to birds of eastern and western North America (2016), and What It’s Like to Be a Bird (2020). He is the recipient of the American Birding Association’s Roger Tory Peterson Award for lifetime achievement in promoting the cause of birding and a recognition award from the National Wildlife Refuge System for his support of bird conservation.

David Sibley on social media