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Ah, a reasonably well-lit subject filling a large part of the frame and not a) hiding its head, b) facing away from us, or c) flying away. This one should be easy! The plain-vanilla bill (relatively not long, short, thick, thin, nor curved), extensive and distinct yellow on the underparts, some dark side streaking overlying yellow sides, and at least one wing bar should plunk us firmly in the Parulidae. Looking at the bit of tail that we can see hiding among the pine needles, we note that the bird also sports tail spots (or, spot) and that, in combination with the above, should allow us to rule out all but the Dendroica, er… Setophaga warblers (recall the recent subsumption – I know it’s not a word, but I like it – of the members of Dendroica into the formerly monotypic genus Setophaga).
Once among that newly-expanded genus, we can immediately eliminate the type species, American Redstart, on any of a number of grounds. In fact, with the features noted above, our options lie with a limited solution set (in no particular order): Magnolia, Cape May, Cerulean, Blackburnian, Townsend’s, Kirtland’s, Prairie, Palm, Pine, and Blackpoll warblers. Canada Warbler is eliminated on the strength of the quiz bird’s tail spot. The broken eye ring and lack of much extension of the superciliary behind the eye leaves us only Cape May, Kirtland’s, Prairie, and Pine. The whiteness and thickness of the wing bar that we can see rules out Prairie, the strong supraloral line does the same for Kirtland’s, and the lack of throat streaking eliminates Cape May from consideration. The bill also looks a bit too hefty for the fine-billed Cape May and Prairie warblers and the side streaking of Kirtland’s Warbler typically appears as lines of elongated spots, rather than the distinct streaks of the quiz bird.
I took this picture of an immature male Pine Warbler at the site of the Avalon Seawatch, Cape May Co., NJ, on 7 October 2008.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the August Bird Photo Quiz—Pine Warbler:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.