ID Series

The Identification and Ageing Series is the brain child of Cian Cardiff, an Irish Ornithologist based in Co. Wexford. Turning back the clocks three years I joined the world of social media, firstly Twitter. Here one of the first people I came into contact with was Mr Cardiff who introduced me for the first time to subspecies; he educated me on everything from what one was, to how to go about identifying them with the first being the continental subspecies of Great Cormorant ssp. sinensis, a part of my life I’ll never forget.

After a few months Cian proposed to me his idea of the Identification & Ageing Series and before long the pair of us set it up and you can find the link to our Facebook group here. From there onwards my knowledge and field experience of subspecies and more recently ageing the likes of gulls and raptors has sky rocketed; if there’s one thing I love about the birds is that we’re always learning, you’ll never stop learning!

1st sum sub alp
1st summer ‘Western’ Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans cantillans) – Aged by worn brown wing feathers and identified as ssp. cantillans by its tail pattern: small white tip on 2nd most outer tail feather (T5) that curves round & doesn’t follow up the shaft with very little white on 3rd most outer tail feather (T4). Image – Ian Smith

Those who came to criticise the ID Series said that it was just another Facebook group by where people just post and ask “What’s that bird?”, but the group is far more than that. It’s a group by where folk of all levels come together and develop their knowledge in relation to identification of hybrids & subspecies, straight down to ageing and identify sex.

What the ID Series uses is teamwork, and with our international team that includes Francois Mullan and Simon Carrington, what we aim to do is unlock the hidden potential and bring the identification and ageing of birds in more depth, forward to the attention of the wider birding community. In the future the four of us wish to do many things, for Cian it’s to one day publish his life long dream ‘The Identification & Ageing Series’ book and to become a tour guide, whilst for me it’s to delve deeper into the taxonomy side of things and to hopefully unite the European Authorities under one taxonomical code.


If you’ve got any questions, have any images that you think maybe of interest to us or would like some advice on identification then feel free to drop an email to either myself or Cian and we’ll do our best: