June 2023 Photo Quiz

Tony Leukering
Dodge City, KS
greatgrayowl@aol.com

Don’t you just love looking up at the nether regions of birds? I can imagine some quiz takers crying foul, but the bird is identifiable. In fact, it’s easily identifiable. One simply must be aware of the usefulness of certain characters, and that awareness takes study, both of field guides and of actual birds.

Quiz takers might ponder a few or many options of which passerine family to which our quiz species belongs, but many, perhaps most, will strike for the family immediately. The combination of tail spots and flank streaking leaves few options outside the Parulidae, the New World warblers. Once there, with the requisite knowledge, the identification is straightforward and simple.

In my experience in the field with others, I find that many do not understand the incredible usefulness that tail spots provide to the would-be warbler identifier. The shape and placement of those spots – which are restricted to the inner webs of the tail feathers, thus are not visible from above without the tail being spread – can enable certain ID to species for many or to a small group (two to four) of species for other shape-and-placement combos. That is why both of the two best Parulidae-specific field guides illustrated that feature… along with the under-tail coverts pattern. Given how often one finds oneself with exactly this quiz’s view of warblers, this ID-feature combo provides a powerful tool for one’s identification arsenal.

Photos and answers are supplied by Tony Leukering, a field ornithologist based in southeast Dodge City, KS, 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.