Websites help to identify birds.
Gardeners always welcome birds to their yards year-round, but in winter, when we're usually not so busy growing things, we tend to pay more attention to them.
This is the time of year that we wonder about the names of certain birds that come to the feeder or that we notice on walks in the woods. It's always good to own a bird identification book, of course. But the Web can help, too. It's especially handy if you keep a laptop near the main window where you watch birds from indoors.
Dave's Garden, the commercial gardening community site, has just launched a bird identification database. It's called BirdFiles and includes 1,607 birds and 2,912 images.
It's great for those who know something about birds -- you can search by common or scientific name, or browse through an entire order of birds. But it didn't help me identify that little speckled bird I've seen lately.
The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center's bird identification site shows photographs of numerous birds, although to search you still have to guess a bird's name to click on. It also offers bird songs, which is nice.
A bit easier is the offering from Bird Watcher's Digest, which divides birds by category -- waterbirds, sparrows and tanagers, etc. -- and then you click on those to find the individual species.