North American Shorebirds

Easily master the key identification markers & behaviors of 47 North American shorebird species.

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The fastest way to become a better birder!

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Finally learn how to confidently identify shorebirds and stop missing out on those exciting lifers! This collection of 400+ flashcards will help you ingrain—so that you never forget—the most important identification markers, behaviors, and distinguishing traits of North America’s 47 resident shorebird species. Moreover, it will steadily build and reinforce your identification skills through beautiful photographs of breeding and non-breeding shorebirds.

So, the next time you’re in the field, confronted by a shoreline or mudflat peppered with shorebirds, you won’t have to desperately flip through a field guide or the inaccurate recommendations your bird ID app coughs up. Rather, you’ll have a mentally ingrained system for immediately recognizing and deducing every shorebird species present through the clues you’re taught in this class!

The ultimate tool for quickly learning (and remembering) how to identify North America’s shorebirds

When it comes to shorebird identification, field guides can tend towards being a little confusing for novice birders, presenting pages and pages of virtually identical-looking birds. This confusion extends well into the field, where shorebirds often hang out in mixed flocks, develop several different plumages throughout the year, and tend to remain rather quiet outside of their breeding grounds (rendering vocalizations unhelpful for ID).

The result? All of the traditional tools and clues you rely on for identifying birds fall flat, leaving you clueless, confused, and maybe a little frustrated too at all of the missed opportunities for snagging lifers.

Based on the same content taught by Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Academy, eBird, and the National Audubon Society, this collection of 400+ adaptive flashcards is the antidote to that confusion, teaching you the most important identification markers, behaviors, and distinguishing traits of North America’s shorebirds. These target the eight “unofficial” shorebird subgroups: (1) Tringas, (2) peeps, (3) “snipe-types”, (4) phalaropes, (5) “grasspipers” and turnstones, (6) plovers, (7) godwits and curlews, and (8) oystercatchers, stilts, and avocets.

With this Shorebirds of North America course, you get:

  • 400 Smart, adaptive flashcards (for web and mobile) covering the key traits, behaviors, and markers you need to know to swiftly and accurately identify 47 of North America’s shorebirds.
  • A ‘Basics of Shorebird ID’ deck devoted to shorebird size, shape, behavior, and diversity, giving you a foundation for everything else you’ll be learning.
  • A carefully tailored curriculum that aligns with the same content taught by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Academy, eBird, and the National Audubon Society.
  • A really efficient, easy-to-use, and fun system for learning and remembering everything you need to know to confidently identify North America’s shorebirds in both breeding and non-breeding plumage.
  • 150+ Beautiful shorebird photographs (in both breeding and non-breeding plumage, as well as some juveniles) testing you on your visual identification skills and the application of the content you’ve learned in the course’s previous flashcards.
  • Ongoing feedback, statistics, and visualization tools to help you track your progress.
  • In-sync studying across Brainscape’s website and all your iOS and Android devices.

Importantly, Brainscape’s spaced repetition algorithm blends key cognitive science tactics to deliver this crucial knowledge to your brain in a way that optimizes its retention. Because what’s the point of learning about shorebirds if you don’t remember those lessons in the field?

All-too-often, birders sign up for shorebird classes and online courses in an effort to improve their identification skills only to find themselves quickly overwhelmed by the volume of information presented and the lack of a systematic way to remember that information. Brainscape, on the other hand, is designed to deeply ingrain that information in your brain—quickly, efficiently, and painlessly—so that you don’t forget it later when you most need it.

An author with a lifelong passion for birdwatching

Thea Beckman (MSc) is a professional writer, content marketer, and passionate bird-watcher with three decades of experience bird-watching in dozens of hotspots across the globe, including South Africa, Botswana, Thailand, Laos, Australia, Europe, Colombia, Panama, Canada, and the United States.

As Brainscape’s Content Marketer, it was only natural that she would capture her many decades’ of expertise, as well as her key learnings from bird courses such as those offered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Academy, and present it using the study app she knows will help her students explore, learn, remember, and have fun in the process.

Thea also has a Master’s Degree in Science, is the published author of the non-fiction science comedy book, ‘Why? Because Science!’, and regularly leads bird walks in biodiverse locations around the Fraser River Delta in British Columbia, Canada, where she lives.

A few important notes on these Shorebirds of North America flashcards

These flashcards will improve your knowledge and identification skills for 47 species of shorebirds found in North America (and elsewhere around the globe since shorebirds are such prolific travelers). As such, the content is focused on only the highest-yield identification markers, behaviors, and distinguishing traits of these shorebirds, and not a comprehensive account of every trait related to every bird.

For example, many shorebirds are silent outside of their breeding grounds in the Arctic, and so the vocalizations of these birds are not included in these flashcards. While memorizing vocalizations can be helpful, in the case of shorebirds, shape, size, and behavior tend to be far more useful and reliable traits to lean on.

Additionally, we have not included flashcards for shorebirds that are vagrant or extremely localized in range within North America. It’s challenging enough to master the identification skills for 48 shorebird species. We don’t need to complicate the task with the dozen or so other shorebirds that rarely get blown ashore or that require two flights, a 4x4 vehicle, and a sherpa to find because they breed on some extremely isolated Alaskan peninsula.

Finally, a word on photographs: many of these were generously provided by photographers in the Delta Naturalists Society (DNS), a nature club located in the Fraser River Valley of British Columbia, Canada. They are: Brian Avent, Terrance Carr, Glen Bodie, Pat Smart, Chris McVittie, David Hoar, Jim Kneesh, Jonathan Mwenifumbo, Noreen Rudd, Marion Shikaze, Denise Kitson, and Roger Meyer. Many other photographs were sourced on Wikipedia Commons and the author would like to sincerely thank those photographers (credited in the flashcards) for their rich contributions that really are the bedrock of this educational course.

Decks in this class (11)

Let's warm up with some shorebird ID!
Can you identify these shorebirds? To get you in the mood for the more in-depth learning presented in this class, this deck tests you on 20 species of shorebirds drawn at random from the other decks.
20  cards
Lesson 1: Shorebird Essentials
From shape, size, and foraging behavior to habitat, range, and plumage: receive a grand overview of the various identification hacks and tools you need to take on all of North America's 47 shorebird species. This deck is preparation for the group-specific decks to come.
58  cards
Lesson 2: Tringa-type Shorebirds
Tringas are medium to large-sized sandpipers with long bills, necks, and legs. In this deck, we'll learn how to recognize and identify the seven Tringa-type shorebirds found in North America.
53  cards
Lesson 3: 'Peep' Sandpipers
The "peeps" are the small, stocky sandpipers of North America's mudflats, sandy shores, and rocky coastlines. The tend to be the most frustrating of all the shorebirds to identify because of their similar size, shape, and plumage across many different species, but this deck contains the cheat codes to their ID!
88  cards
Lesson 4: 'Snipe-type' Shorebirds
Meet the 'Snipe-types', North America's short, squat shorebirds with almost comically long bills and the source of a bird-watcher's biggest headache: telling Long-billed Dowitchers and Short-billed Dowitchers apart! Also included: Wilson's Snipe and American Woodcock.
33  cards
Lesson 5: Phalaropes
Learn to swiftly recognize and identify the tell-tale shape, behaviours, and plumages (both breeding and non-breeding) of North America's—and the world's—three phalarope species: the Red Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, and Wilson's Phalarope.
28  cards
Lesson 6: "Grasspipers" & Turnstones
From the surf-pounded rocky coastlines of the continent to the grassy prairies of its interior, meet and learn to identify the members of these two unique groups of shorebirds that have made their homes in starkly contrasting habitats. Species covered in this lesson include: Ruddy Turnstone, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and Upland Sandpiper
37  cards
Lesson 7: Plovers
Get to know and confidently ID North America's five banded plovers (Killdeer, Wilson's, Semipalmated, Piping, and Snowy plovers) and three unbanded plovers (Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-plover, and Pacific Golden-plover).
57  cards
Lesson 8: Godwits & Curlews
Learn to confidently identify North America's biggest shorebirds with bizarrely large and shaped bills: Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, and Whimbrel.
23  cards
Lesson 9: Oystercatchers, Avocets & Stilts
Meet North America's four large, distinctive, black-and-white shorebirds: American Oystercatcher, Black Oystercatcher, American Avocet, and Black-necked Stilt.
32  cards

Improve Shorebird ID, guaranteed.

This course will help you improve your shorebird ID skills. Try it for FREE and see for yourself or upgrade to Pro for full access. Not satisfied? We'll give you your money back.

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