May 2020 Photo Quiz

Tony Leukering
Fairborn, OH

This quiz bird has a plethora of useful field marks, so the fact that we are looking at the south end of a north-bound bird should be alleviated somewhat. With this bird in a tree, the combination of tail spots, unmarked white under-tail coverts, what looks like blackish streaking on grayish upperparts, and fine black spots that might be part of streaks on the sides on otherwise bright white underparts – what we can see of them, at least, should get us to the correct family.

For those not in the know, tail spots are patches of contrastingly pale coloration on the INNER WEBS of, typically, the outer two to three tail feathers on each side of the tail. Note on the outermost rectrix on the left side of the tail that the tail spot does not cross the shaft – which shows as a paler line the length of the feather and which separates the black base of the inner web from the gray outer web of the feather. [Yes, the feather is comprised mostly of inner web; the outer web is very narrow.] This feature is somewhat rare in birds, with, in the ABA Area, a few passerine families hosting most species that sport them.

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.