Once more unto the flying-birds quiz photo, dear friends, once more. (Apologies to The Bard for the paraphrasing.) And, to make bad worse, the birds are flying away from us!

Size and overall structure are the two features of a bird’s appearance first considered by skilled birders when endeavoring to put a name to a bird (though location, habitat, and date are often considered earlier or at the same time). Our quiz birds seem long-winged, short-tailed (do they even have tails?), and long-necked. Size, of course, is not something that we can use here, given that we have no frame of reference. However, we can infer size somewhat by wing length relative to body length, as I have discussed in previous installations of this quiz. Our birds’ wing lengths suggest a fairly substantial bird, but determination of how substantial should probably remain in abeyance for the nonce, as the technique is quite gross.

The birds’ feet seem large and apparently block our view of the birds’ tails, which suggest that those tails are not long and are probably quite short. The pattern of the underside of the wings – wide, black trailing edge extending to wing tip perpendicular to a black basal stripe contrasting with the otherwise-white wing – is quite helpful in determining the family to which these birds belong.


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.