Why Common Birds are awesome

A favourite common bird of costa riica
Golden-hooded Tanager

Like a lot of birders I’m always hoping to see one of the special birds of whatever region I happen to be in. On my patch it would be the Coquette or perhaps something even more exotic such as an Umbrellabird.

Its what I focus on when in the field though its the common birds that usually get my attention and I’m good with that. https://www.bryanpollock.com/Nature/101Birds-of-Costa-Rica/

Paying attention to the common birds we see.

This single minded focus may appear to others that the more common birds are dismissed out of hand but nothing could be further from the truth.

It is true that when a Palm Tanager scoots by my peripheral vision I will often let it continue without following its path. That doesn’t mean I ever dismiss the sighting and given a breather in the hubbub of looking for the specialities I will stop and drink in any behaviour the local commons care to display.

Everyday traffic at the feeder

Our banana feeder on the edge of our little patio usually plays host to the “regulars”. When a uncommon feeder visitor shows I’m excited but the Scarlet-rumped Tanagers still receive plenty of attention from me. 

I’m always honoured to have them around. I’ll watch them and their interactions with each other for hours on end. There’s always some new behaviour that reveals itself along the way.

Having a common bird visit the feeder often enough allows subtler aspects of their behaviour to reveal itself. Its inevitable when being continually exposed to individuals of the species. When a regular exhibits unusual behaviour its straightforward enough to compare that incident to the average.


Of course all of this observing is just another day at the office to the biologist or ornithologist in the field. They are required to be fastidious about recording and documenting what they see and rightly so.

In my case the observing of commons I do is of the “just add it to the data set residing in my brain” kind and therefore not true science. Organizing, logging and entering my observations into datasets and spreadsheets is not one of my habits currently. If I did maybe it all could be of use to someone other than myself.

Detailed observation of common birds is easy because they are readily accessible so little time is spent searching them out in the first place. 


Sometimes its the unusual behaviour that attracts ones attention in the first place. Aberrant behaviour becomes easy to spot when one is familiar the every day ordinary kind of behaviour.

As the seasons progress different habits emerge with birds and common birds make it easy to observe these changes. The lead up to breeding season, territory, raising young. Foraging, and dealing with predators are on show daily.

Delight and peace

Apart from observing, learning and listening there is an equally important kind of peace that comes from watching a common bird whom we may know as individuals. It pleases when the idiosyncrasies and personality of that one bird reveal themselves. Its like a familiar and favourite piece of music engendering a feeling of companionship and peace. That we are fellow beings sharing a moment.
So, there you have it, a few excellent reasons for garden variety birds.


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