September 2023 Photo Quiz

Tony Leukering
Dodge City, KS

There’s not all that much to go on this month, and that’s this month’s point.

Oftentimes, the difference between knowledgeable, experienced birders and others is that the former are… knowledgeable and experienced. In birding, as in many human pursuits, repetition is the engine of advancing capability. As a soccer player or a painter or a flyfishing aficionado develops muscle memory with practice… and more practice and more practice, a birder develops… mental memory of brief or partial views of birds. Having previous experience of seeing particular species a few or many or a lot of times in which only certain portions of the bird are visible provides the basis for the expert birder’s seeming ability to conjure correct identifications out of the ether on poorly, briefly, or only partially seen individual birds. There is simply no replacement for experience.

The birder that declines to investigate further for a bird seen briefly or partially is reducing the chances of that birder being able to ID that species in the future on similar views. From being tenacious – but still being respectful of other birders and the bird being sought, comes a more complete understanding of what bird parts are where, how they are colored, how those parts appear when the bird is in odd postures or are partially hidden, and that understanding can lead to certain ID despite such poor views.

Our partial bird seems stuck to a tree, but it might be a bit tricky to determine from the photo what parts are where and what bits of the bird we can see.

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.