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This section of the site is devoted to providing some benchmark images that hopefully will help the viewer improve their ability to estimate numbers of birds in different situations.

Each linked page below takes you to a photo of a flock or group of birds:-

- Look at the image for an appropriate amount of time (depending on the simulated field circumstances), and come up with your estimate of how many birds are invloved.

- Try to avoid the temptation to actually count the birds in the image - you won't learn anything that way!

- Click on the image to see a copy on which I have counted the birds (with colored dots - shown in this new image), using a magnified version of the image where necessary to ensure as much accuracy as possible. Click on the image again to revert back to the uncounted version.

- Note that on the larger counts I may be off by a few birds, due to obscured birds and the limitations of the rendered image; keep in mind that the larger the number, the less important it is to have an absolutely precise figure.

- each row has a shared theme (roughly); each column from left to right presents a tougher/different challenge on that theme.


part of a flock of thermaling pelicans Woodstorks overhead. a flock of thermaling Anhingas
a small flock of Mountain Plovers in a field - hard to pick out the birds a large group of sandpipers on sod farm field a group of mixed shorebirds - estimate them separately
small group of thermaling hawks a group of hawks gliding large group of thermaling hawks
a tight flock of geese lift off part of a tight flock of white geese flying a very large flock of flying white-cheeked geese
a tight group of geese walking geese and whistling ducks lift off; estimate them separately a large seabird feeding swarm from a jetty
a distant group of ducks on water a group of resting Redheads large flock of Redheads flying past, low
gulls sitting on the water closely-packed gulls standing on landfill pad gulls loafing on a flat pad - estimate by species
gulls feeding at a landfill mixed gulls & terns; only estimate the foreground birds a huge flying mass of gulls!
Alcids on a cliff counting boobies - at last it's legit... skimmers landing among gulls; estimate just the skimmers
part of a flock of longspurs coming in to land Purple Martins preparing to roost for the night a large flock of flying redpolls against the sky
part of a mega-flock of icterids in a winter gathering
part of a huge flock of Sooty Shearwaters milling offshore  
roosting Monarch butterflies loafing sea lions