I usually go out looking for rare birds on my walks with the zoom lens. But if a common house sparrow lands in a nice pose I'll go ahead and practice my camera skills on them.
The more you get familiarized with holding the camera steady and getting your focus right the better chance you will have to take a good photo when a rare bird is in the right location.
House sparrows are always easy targets and will let you get close. Probably because they think you might have treats for them.
They love to dive in and out of hedges with little internal squabbles inside the hedges. Too bad I can't get the camera inside the hedge to see the epic martial arts fighting going on in there.
Robins are usually the first common bird I see out on a walk so they usually end up being my first camera settings test subject. You can get the focal area correct and the lighting settings in place while they pose perfectly for a long time.
Mallards are another easy target, here I was testing the focal area on the left side of the live area rather than in the center of the field of view.
The red-winged blackbirds are another common bird in my area. They are easy to photograph but because of their jet black color and tendency to pose against the sky it makes it a bit of a tricky shot to keep them from becoming a silhouette.
It is better to try and circle around them so that the sun isn't behind them. This brings out their colors more, this technique is also useful on most other black birds.
Now that spring is in full swing around here I'm hoping to see orioles, ruby throated grossbeaks, indigo buntings and various warblers. But in the meantime I'm sure I'll be getting many common birds to test on.