Currently as you walk down your favorite jungle trail or cruise the river and lagoon in your boat, your tourist guest will ask, "What is this?" or "What is that?" Caught on the spot to identify the bird in question may put you at odds with being knowledgeable about birds or having to admit an embarrassing "I don't know" or you could appear a winner buy applying the "Bubba technique".
To use the Bubba technique you should first ask yourself, in what category should this bird be placed'? Example: if it's swimming, it's probably a duck. Then ask yourself', what is this bird doing? If the duck is making a whistling sound as it flies away, you would be safe in quickly responding, "A Whistling Duck!". As profound as this may seem, Bubba has statistics that prove 90% of the time you will be accurate.
Let me give You this example. While driving your van load of tourists down the road to a Mayan ruin, a tourist -expecting you to be ever observant, might ask, "What kind of hawk was that we passed beside the road?" Trying not to sound facetious, reply, "A Roadside Hawk!" You'll be surprised how this satisfies them that you are indeed a well trained Birder Guide. Without having to spend your nights studying field guide identification books, applying this simple technique can make you too an expert.
Remember the first step is to categorize the bird in question. Is it a dove-, is it a duck; is it pecking wood, Could it be catching little-flies'? Then look and listen for special markings, sounds or behavior. Example: a circling gull at the sea side making a laughing Sound is most likely a ... laughing Gull. Imagine this. You're leading a group along a path in the rainforest and suddenly in the fruit tree before you are six large birds that look like parrots with yellow heads ... Yellow-headed Parrots! I know your thinking, "It couldn't be this easy," well then, tell me quickly, what kind of bird is black with red wings'? A RedWinged Blackbird. You're visiting Mexico and you spy a Chickadee. A Mexican Chickadee. A new Kingfisher you're unfamiliar with shows up' He's not the normal blue color but an obvious green. What is your best guess'? Most people know an Owl when they see one and this one has stripes. Don't scratch your head, just say it!
True story: my neighbor called Bubba up to ask him to identify a large bird he had been seeing in his yard. lie said It looked like a Common Hawk but was black! He was so impressed that Bubba was such an authority on birds that he could tell him right then on the phone that it was a Common Black Hawk. Am I going too fast for you'?
Why don't you try this little test:
1. A dove in the Sea Grape tree has white wings and is a _________ ________.
2. You're visiting Halfmoon Caye and you come across a colony of Booby birds with red feet, they are __________ ___________ __________.
3. You're touring the savanna and discover a small bird with a white collar eating seeds. It is a _____________ ________.
4. A bird pecking the wood of a Coconut tree on the islands has black and white stripes on its back like those of a Zebra _____________ _________.
5. A tourist runs up to you and asks, "What's that bird over there catching flies with the long scissor-like tail? You reply a _________ _________.
If your answers are: White-winged Dove, Red-footed Booby, White-collared Seedeater, Zebra-backed Woodpecker, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, I think you're catching on.
For years Bubba has been using this method with great success. I asked him honestly how he came up with such a wonderful technique. Probably because he's unwilling to give away his secrets he just looked at me and said, "What has one eye, one horn, flies, is purple and eats people?"