August 2018 Photo Quiz



Click photo to enlarge.

Brown upperparts, longish tail, and pink legs on a bird standing on the ground: we can probably start the ID ball rolling with New World sparrows (Passerellidae; until recently, they were housed in Emberizidae). Yes, we can rule out the Old World Passer species [family Passeridae (e.g., House Sparrow), which are not particularly closely related to New World sparrows]. This can be accomplished due to the bird’s long legs and crown streaking and the bird’s lack of pale braces, which is a Brit term for particular longitudinal stripes on the sides of the back – one per side -- that mimic the appearance of suspenders, which the Brits call “braces.” Braces are occasionally quite useful in bird ID, particularly in distinguishing Blackburnian Warbler from nearly all other members of the Parulidae, and when dealing with some pipits and shorebirds, among other species.

Once among the passerellids, we can rule out the towhees (too much plumage pattern) and all of the dark-legged sparrow species (which aren’t that numerous). The long, narrow tail with a rounded or squared tip rules out most of the grassland sparrows (e.g., Savannah and various species currently or recently housed in the genus Ammodramus), and the relatively svelte appearance rules out various of the big, bruisers (e.g., Fox and Harris’s). We can also see that the bird’s primary tips extend noticeably beyond the tertials – the comparison called the primary projection, and that will actually help us out in the next round of exclusions from the solution set.

Please submit the correct Common or English name exactly as it appears in the ABA Checklist.

What species is this?