Relative to the small branches, this quiz bird seems small and that feature, in combo with the fact that it’s perched in a tree, probably puts us in the large bird order, Passeriformes, which houses about half the world’s bird species. The pattern on the upperparts feathering is both intricate and subtle and provides a good clue to the family. It certainly rules most (all?) of the sparrows, blackbirds, warblers, and cardinalids, the last four families in the current taxonomic order. The lack of a very long claw on the hind toe rules out the pipits and longspurs (and Snow Bunting, but hopefully, no one started there). Also note the barring on the wing coverts.

What species is represented here?

Photos and answers are supplied by Tony Leukering, a field ornithologist based in southeast Colorado, with strong interests in bird migration, distribution, and identification. He has worked for five different bird observatories from coast to coast and considers himself particularly adept at taking quiz photos (that is, bad pictures!). Leukering is a member of the Colorado Bird Records Committee and had been a reviewer for eBird since its inception. He is also interested in most everything else that flies, particularly moths and odonates.