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Not a lot of body parts to go with on this one! We’ve got a tail, some undertail coverts, and a wingtip. The least-helpful feature is that wingtip, but we can see that it is mostly black, which does help. However, the tail and those coverts will be required to provide all the clues we’ll need to ID this one. Well, actually, we have one other minor clue: the bark of the tree to which our quiz bird is clinging. The bark is of a pine, which may help us, but does not really rule much out, as nearly any species – even the most died-in-the-wool deciduous-forest specialist will utilize what’s out there at some point.
Many quiz perusers may have nailed this one immediately, because it is quite distinctive, what with the outermost rectrices being nearly entirely white and with at least two other rectrices on each side being substantially white (we can see the outlines of the next pair in, which are white, and some white on at least one other feather on the right side). So, this bird has a large flash of white in the outer tail, something that might make a bug flinch or start. Additionally, the undertail coverts are black-based and extensively white-tipped. This combo of characters is matched by just one ABA-area species, a member of the fairly large neotropical genus Myioborus, a group that, to a species, uses large white tail flashes to cause insect prey to flush and giving them the moniker of “whitestart.” Unfortunately, that group received another name that is really misleading, one that had been applied to a widespread neotropical migrant familiar to most ABA-area birders, one that uses the same prey-flushing technique, but with a different color: orange or yellow. That name was based on a group of Old World species that also use that technique, but with the color red. While there is something of an underground movement (though emerging above ground somewhat in recent years) to get the group name for Myioborus changed to “whitestart,” we may yet wait a while for that to happen. I took this picture of a Painted Redstart (Whitestart) in Madera Canyon, Pima Co., AZ, on 18 February 2006.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the September Bird Photo Quiz—Painted Redstart:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.