On numerous occasions you see this little bird pop out of the shrubs and then quickly disappear never to be seen again. You did catch a quick glance of its head, belly pattern and colors that it had. You then start to break down the numerous possibilities in what bird that could have been that you saw. SWAG (scientific wild ass guess) is the method most birders use when out in the field and those specific important field marks are what you use to prove that “bird name” is what you saw!! But, is it really the species you saw or was it just a guess??

While banding bird, we never use the SWAG method because we must be 100% accurate. I use Pyle’s guide for my identification and many times we need to measure specific feathers, ect.. to prove that we are 100% sure that this species is a ….. species. Some species like the cardinal don’t need to be looked up because they are obviously a cardinal. If there are any birds in question, you release them unbanded after a few pictures and measurements to see why you were unable to identify that bird. Trust me there are those few that can be very difficult, even when you have that perfect 360 up-close view of the bird?? I guess that is why we call them Confusing Fall Warblers!

Confusing Warbler

Here is one of those confusing fall warbler where once you find that one specific field mark that you instantly say “ it is a bird name”. Ya, I know bird name isn’t what we call this bird but I am leaving that up to you to try and figure out! Good luck everyone!

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