Happy Blue Moon 🌙!

September is the month when many birds are trading in their bright sexy breeding feather coats for their more subtle non-breeding ones. 

This can result in A LOT of variations in bird plumage.

These variations result in September (and much of August) being the month for extreme birding. 😉

Meaning… Novice beware!

Even the best amongst us can easily get stumped.  However, that doesn’t mean don’t try!

It just means, be EXTRA attentive to details by becoming your most discerning self.

To give you a little boost during this demanding season…I’m going to share a VERY helpful question to keep in your back pocket…

It’s the question of:
Who else can it be?

Let’s run through an example together, using an encounter that happened to me a few weeks ago.

I was at a nearby lake early one foggy morning watching the day and the birds wake up. A flock of geese were the first to head off the lake shortly after sunrise. They were followed by a few Double-breasted Cormorants and Ring-billed Gulls coming in. 

After a little while, I noticed the gliding swooping flight of numerous swallows about 200 yards off shore.

I did my best to stick with them and make a positive ID as they dashed back and forth, banking quickly in one direction and then the next.

The most likely candidates were the Barn Swallow and the Tree Swallow.

So, you can bet I was more than stoked when I spotted, what appeared to be, a Bank Swallow. 

I noticed a bird with a dark brown back, clean white underbelly and a necklace-of-sorts around its neck and breast area.  

OMG!!! 😁☀️How cool.

I lingered with them for as long as my brain and balance could navigate their pendulous movement.

Any time I see a bird that’s not super common in my area, I always double check with my field guide… 

Just to be sure I’m recalling the field marks correctly.

When I looked the Bank Swallow up… I was spot on.
Those were the filed marks for the Bank Swallow for sure.


It was August.
So, I took the extra minute to ask myself The Question…

Who else could it be?

If you haven’t done so already… pull out your field guide and do that now, before I reveal what I discovered.

I scanned each swallow in my guide…
The Barn, Cliff, Cave, Tree…


No way!

The juvenile Tree Swallow shows a necklace similar to that of the Bank Swallow!!


OK… So, how are they actually different?

I’ll let you discover that for yourself.


But, I will tell you that there is one great feature that you can use to distinguish the two species this time of year.

Fun!! Right!
I agree. 

That’s why I’ll be diving into 6 more of these similarities with my students in the Advanced Skills for Beginning Birders Masters Course during our next live Zoom session.

Every 2 weeks I meet with an inspiring crew of students from all across the country (and one in Japan 😁) to cover topics like…

  • The difference between a Merlin and Peregrine Falcon
  • Bird Nest Identification
  • How to Look at Warblers
  • Telling Ducks Apart
  • Female Bird Identification 
  • Warbler Habitat for Better ID
  • And many more….

In addition to our bi-monthly meetings, students get to explore activities and delve into topics about bird life, habitat, behavior, shape, size, posture and song at their own pace as they progress in the course. 

They get to choose when and where they do the activities and if they want to follow along in the books or the online course. It’s totally up to them and easily fits into their unique schedule.

Being a masters student means you also receive free access to the For The Love of Birds Rendezvous Speaker Series, you get entry into our private online group, and best of all…feedback on their assignments from talented mentors.  

Sometimes, like tonight… 

I bring on guest speakers, like Dan Gardoqui from Lead with Nature who will be discussing shore birds and migration 


 Maryse La Renarde from Canada who will be taking us on a journey of birds in archeology. 

If you’d like to deepen your connection to birds and nature and join this passionate crew of bird loving folks… 

Click this link to schedule an interview with me to learn if the course is a good fit for you.

Until next time!


Cultivating Deep Nature Connection, Mentoring Bird Lovers, and Teaching Game-changing Skills

Front cover of Identify Any Bird Anywhere Book

Take Your Passion to the Next Level

A girl who fell in love with a bird’s song.

I am the founder of Bird Mentor, a resource for live and online courses helping people worldwide build confidence learning about birds and the natural world. Through my courses, students are immersed in the principles of instinctive birding, deep nature connection, bird language, and my innovative model for advanced bird identification.

In addition to my online courses I teach birding at traditional skills events like Rabbit Stick, Winter Count, Saskatoon Circle, Buckeye, Sharpening Stone and for amazing organizations like the Boulder Outdoor Survival School, The Women’s Wilderness Institute, Crow Canyon Archeological Center, The Vermont Wilderness School, Flanders Nature Center, Eight Shields and The Powerhouse Science Center.

A few years ago I helped to found the Dipper Project, a research study designed to look at the effects of the Gold King Mine spill on avian life in the Animas River in Colorado. I’ve also lead tours for the Bosque del Apache Sandhill Crane Festival, Mesa Verde Bird Festival, the Durango Bird Club and The White Memorial Conservation Center.

During a real bird nerd phase, I helped to band birds on Great Gull Island, focusing on the Roseate & Common Terns, as well as migratory birds at Oxbow Preserve and hummingbirds at Mesa Verde National Park.

In addition to geeking out about birds, I’m also a Naturalist, Herbalist, and Photographer and made contributions to the new Peterson’s Field Guide to Bird Nests and ABA’s Birder’s Guide.

I love receiving your stories and questions if you have any. So, please send me a message whenever you like.


Kristi Dranginis