Whew! We don’t have a lot of clues in this one. Welcome to the New Year!The arresting feature of this quiz photo is the quiz bird’s foot, it’s nearly bubble-gum-pink foot, with long toes and short, black nails. I have published multiple times on the importance of soft-parts coloration in bird identification, with legs – including the feet – being a large part of that importance. However, I find that on highly distinctive species – whether that distinctiveness is due to plumage, size, shape, or other reasons, smaller aspects of that species’ appearance catch little attention, due to the ease with which the species is identified using relatively large-scale features.

The other clues that we can garner from the quiz photo are few, but important. The alula is black (it’s the only feather abutting the top edge of the photo that is not white), and that can mean something. The other black feather is the outermost primary on the bird’s right wing. The rest of the underside of the wing that is in the photo are white. These include the primary coverts and what look to be the outermost greater secondary coverts.

With nothing in the photo to judge size, it might be difficult to discern that feature. However, if one looks back at the foot, we can immediately rule out most of the bird species of the world.


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.