ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 117

Answer

This month’s quiz-photo is another in a long history of bird-identification photo quizzes that encourage not only selecting a species for which critical characters of the subject match those known for the suspected species, but also studying those characters that rule out similar species. To put it more bluntly, just because a bird has a red eye, does not necessarily mean that it is a Red-eyed Vireo!

This quiz’s subject has a stout, medium-length bill and an obvious white wing stripe, and nearly all respondents got to the shorebirds for a solution. The aforementioned combination of characters rapidly reduces the number of options in the ABA area to just three species: American and Eurasian oystercatchers and Willet. Two each of turnstone and godwit species are ruled out by our subject’s bill length: too long for the former, too short for the latter. The apparently blackish head and chest should rule out Willet and the fact that the white of the rump does not continue up the back rules out the mega-rarity, Eurasian Oystercatcher, so this must be an American Oystercatcher. Right?

Well, let’s back up a step. Is the head black? If this were one of the white-bellied oystercatcher species, then it should have a white belly, not the apparently dark belly that this bird sports. Hmm. If this bird does have a dark belly and a white wing stripe and if it were an oystercatcher, then it would have to be a hybrid American x Black Oystercatcher, which can be found with some regularity in the San Diego, CA, area. However, the online ABA quizzes do not allow for hybrids, so this must be a full species, thus it cannot be an oystercatcher. In fact, upon closer scrutiny of the bird’s left wing, we can see distinct contrast between the black primary coverts and the brownish secondary coverts, a feature not present on any ABA-area oystercatcher, but typical of the only species remaining in the quiz’s solution set.

I took this poorly lit picture of an adult eastern Willet at Rio Grande, Cape May Co., NJ, on 5 June 2012.

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The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the December Bird Photo Quiz—Willet:

  1. Zach Smith - Prescott, AZ.
  2. Kevin Welsh - Novi, Mi
  3. Peter Lane - Québec Canada
  4. Claude Auchu - La Pocatiere, Quebec
  5. Ryan O'Donnell - Logan, Utah
  6. Mayn Hipp - Boston, MA
  7. Sarah Toner - Ann Arbor, MI
  8. David Rankin - Biddeford, ME
  9. Nick Minor - Libertyville, IL
  10. Adam Sell - Grayslake, IL
  11. David Arbour - De Queen, Arkansas
  12. Diane Porter - Fairfield, Iowa
  13. Irvin Louque - Lake Charles, LA
  14. Kent Martin - Kalamazoo, MI
  15. Kent Fiala - Hillsborough, NC
  16. Dan O'Malley - Lafayette, LA
  17. Chris Warren - Austin, TX
  18. Michael Kline - Fredericksburg Va.
  19. Laura Bunton - Arlington, TX
  20. William Hutcheson - Concord, MA
  21. Ali Sheehey - Weldon, CA
  22. Joseph Miller - Nickerson, Kansas
  23. Martin Sharp - Edmonton, Alberta
  24. Mike Wasilco - Caledonia, NY
  25. Wes Serafin - Orland Pk,Il 60462
  26. Bob Proctor - Elgin, Scotland
  27. Mark Scheuerman - Sugar Land, TX
  28. Joseph mosley - willard,Mo
  29. Clifford Hawley - Sacramento, CA
  30. Daniel Altif - Swiftwater, PA
  31. Blake Mathys - West Mansfield, OH
  32. Benjamin Shamgochian - East Providence, RI
  33. Marcelo Brongo - Sant Cugat del Valles, Spain
  34. Anya Auerbach - New York, NY
  35. Dave Slager - Columbus, Ohio
  36. Chuck Carlson - Ft. Peck, MT
  37. Jason McGuire - London, ON
  38. Dustin Holschuh - Rock Falls,Il
  39. Ryan Ford - Philadelphia, PA
  40. Dan Vice - barrigada, guam
  41. Josh Parks - Fairbanks, Ak
  42. Greg Zupansic - Eugene, Oregon
  43. Ann Gibson - Woinfield, B.C.
  44. Nick Newberry - Oakton, VA
  45. jim Mountjoy - Galesburg, IL
  46. Lance Verderam - e Livingston Manor, NY
  47. James P. Smith - Gill, MA
  48. Wayne Meyer - Denison, TX
  49. Greg Schrott - Avon Park, FL
  50. Vince Cavalieri - DeWitt, MI
  51. Georgia Conti - Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico
  52. Jon Atwood - Keene, NH
  53. Robert Packard - Riverside, CA
  54. Tom Benson - San Bernardino, CA
  55. Jon Ruddy - Ottawa, ON
  56. Aaron Bilyeu - Placerville, CA
  57. Aiden Moser - Henniker, NH
  58. Ben Lucking - Dexter, Michigan
  59. Cédric Duhalde - Pacifica, California
  60. Pete Dunten - Mountain View, CA
  61. Ryan Steiner - Smithville, OH
  62. Brian E. Small - Los Angeles, CA
  63. Laure Neish - Penticton, BC Canada
  64. Jim Flynn - Seattle, WA
  65. John Brett - Toronto, ON
  66. Zachary Holderby - Penobscot, ME
  67. Casey Ryan - Arcata, Ca
  68. Anji Trujillo - Arcata, Ca
  69. Marc Ribaudo - Woodbridge, VA
  70. Carolee Colter - Nelson, BC, Canada
  71. David Disher - Winston-Salem, NC
  72. Isabella Muro - Palm Bay, FL
  73. Lucie Bruce - Houston, TX
  74. Geoffrey Urwin - Warman, SK
  75. Chloe Walker - Murfreesboro, TN
  76. Sam Manning - Omaha, NE
  77. James McaKay - Mesa, AZ
  78. James Boccia - Ontario
  79. Brendan Higgins - Arcata, ca
  80. Barb Robertson - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  81. Chad Heins - Mankato, MN
  82. Jon Dettwiler - Auburn, WA
  83. Dominic Cormier - Halifax, Nova Scotia
  84. Gerry Hawkins - Arlington, VA
  85. Andrew Guttenberg - Bozeman, MT
  86. Nick Barber - DeKalb, IL
  87. Ed Harper - Carmichael, CA
  88. Chuck DeLaTorre - Plymouth, MI
  89. Mike Fialkovich - Pittsburgh, PA
  90. Polly Pattison - Marlborough, NH
  91. Netanel Paley - Teaneck, NJ
  92. Simon Harvey - Simpsonville, SC
  93. Elias Elias - Arcata, CA
  94. Rob Batchelder - Colorado Springs, CO
  95. Austin Young - Filer
  96. Michael Cannon - Mount Prospect, IL
  97. Cheryl Lynnwood
  98. Jeff Marks - Portland, OR
  99. Claire Miler - Fair Oaks, CA
  100. Spencer Hardy - Norwich, VT
  101. Zak Pohlen - East Lansing, MI
  102. Patty McKelvey - Sheffield Village, OH; USA
  103. Larry Kline - Fredericksburg, VA
  104. Matt Pike - Redmond, WA
  105. Jilly Rodriguez Mendez - Oaxaca, Mexico
  106. Eric Antonio Martinez - Oaxaca, Mexico
  107. Mike Wasilco - Caledonia, NY
  108. Andrew Keaveney - Toronto, Ontario



How Did You Compare?

As stated in the quiz rules, answers must consist simply of the Common or English name exactly as it appears in the ABA Checklist.

The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.



American Oystercatcher
54
Black Oystercatcher
9
Red Knot
6
Eurasian Oystercatcher
3
Common Raven
2
Black Guillemot
2
Sanderling
2
White-rumped Sandpiper
2
Wandering Tattler
2
Northern Gannett
1
Red Phalarope
1
Pigeon Guillemot
1
White-necked Raven
1
Rock Sandpiper
1
Oystercatcher
1
Brown Noddy
1
Black X American Oysercatcher
1

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The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.