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From the comparison of bird length to branch and twig widths, we can safely assume that this month’s quiz bird is fairly small. Some birders viewing this picture may have noted the bird’s left foot, which sports an incredibly long nail on the hind toe. While that feature is one exhibited by longspurs (hence the name), the white-streaked brown upperparts of a bird perched on the side of a branch mitigates against a longspur option. However, there are numerous brown species with long hind toes in a family formerly considered to house the longspurs – the Emberizidae, most of which ABA-area species are known as sparrows. (The longspurs are now considered by the American Ornithologists’ Union to belong to a separate family – the Calcariidae – placed sequentially before the warblers!) However, even though the pink legs are good for many sparrows, a quick glance should enable most to rule out any and all sparrows by a variety of features, including patterns on individual upperparts feathers, the interesting wing pattern, and – most particularly – the long, narrow tail with individual rectrices being strongly pointed.
The bird’s long, thin tail may suggest Bushtit or Wrentit, but the plumage pattern is all wrong for either option, as is the spikiness of the tail feathers. The pink legs rule out any of the larger, long-tailed brown birds that we might have considered had we mistaken the bird’s size, leaving us with a single ABA-area option. I took this picture of a Brown Creeper in Belleplain State Forest, Cape May Co., NJ, on 18 March 2011.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the October Bird Photo Quiz—Brown Creeper:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.