September 2020 Photo Quiz

Tony Leukering
Fairborn, OH

Click to enlarge.

A distant bird on a treetop can be difficult to identify. Distance takes away most, if not all, of the features that we generally use to ID individual birds, leaving us with only gross patterns of dark and light, particularly on this quiz bird. Well, there are features other than color with which we can identify birds. That route to ID is the one that mystifies non-birders and beginning birders, making skilled birders seem magical, superhuman. In fact, those seemingly magical skills are obtainable by most birders that have a lot of time to not only identify birds but study them. Perhaps the most difficult task for those wishing to obtain these magical skills, is being able to step back from plumage colors and patterns and look at the bird as a shape, as an array of shapes. In my experience, this last is the primary differentiator between reasonably competent birders and highly skilled birders.

With that whapped-upside-the-head hint, I will leave you to figure out this quiz bird.

No! I will provide one more clue. If one gets to the correct family, the first sentence in the correct species account in the second edition of The Sibley Guide to Birds provides the key ID features for identifying this quiz bird.

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.