How to identify birds
Using the resources below you will soon be skilled birder. You can recognise birds by their their colour, shape, size and flight pattern.
Large and distinctive black, white and pale grey bird with a pointed beak and red eye.
Browner than male, with white stripe across side of head below eye.
Olive-green, dark head with purple gloss.
Sexes similar, large, adults with black wings, white head, and yellow bill; juveniles brown all over.
Dark brown with brown/dull-orange bill.
Black with orange bill.
Brownish-grey, white wingbars.
Blue-grey top of head, pinkish-brown underparts, white wingbars.
Dunnock (or hedgesparrow)
Sexes similar, brown upperparts, grey breast, fine black bill, red eye, orange-brown legs.
Sexes similar, pied or black, long tail often fanned.
Sexes similar, red face, white neck, black crown, black wings with gold bars.
Browner than male, dull olive-green.
Olive-green, yellow on edges of wing and tail, pale heavy bill.
Sexes similar, grey upperparts, whitish underparts, conspicuous white tip on tail.
House sparrow (female)
Paler brown upperparts, greyish-white underparts.
House sparrow (male)
Chestnut-brown upperparts, greyish-white underparts, large black bib in breeding season, smaller in winter, conical bill.
Sexes similar, a large bird with a white breast, glossy purple/green upperparts and head, pinkish-red bill and feet.
Sexes similar, starling-sized with a chocolate-brown breast and upper-parts, bright yellow bill and eye patch, and yellow legs. Mostly seen in the north of the North Island only.
Sexes similar, grey wings, white head with red bill in adults, dark bill in juveniles.
Sexes similar in winter, dull brown with crimson forehead, male develops pink patch on breast in breeding season.
Rock pigeons or ‘town pigeons’ come in a wide array of colours, but most commonly have pale grey wings with black wingbars, a greenish-purple breast and grey head.
Sexes similar, small, green with white ring around eye.
Sexes similar, brown upperparts, pale breast with dark brown spots, yellowish-brown bill
Sexes similar, glossy black with yellow bill in breeding season; non-breeding birds spotted white with dark bill.
Sexes similar, adults black with white tuft on throat
Most often seen in flight, swallows have dark blue wings and upperparts, a pale breast and pinkish-red ‘bib’ below their beak.
Bright yellow head and underparts
Duller and paler yellow than male
Andrew Walmsley (www.awimages.net)
Australian Magpie, Bellbird, Black-backed gull, Blackbird, Fantail, House sparrow (female), Red-billed gull, Silvereye, Starling, Tui
A Howe (www.istock.com)
Chaffinch, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Rock pigeon, Redpoll
Goldfinch, Grey warbler, House sparrow (male), Kereru, Myna, Song Thrush, Welcome Swallow, Yellowhammer