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The identification of this flying bird coming right us is hampered by the strongly backlit aspect of the photo’s subject. That lighting aspect makes for a black-and-white picture, and the angle of view restricts our ability to use shape cues. However, we do have one large clue: those contrastingly all-white secondaries. Though all-white secondaries contrasting with all-black primaries is not a common feature in ABA-area bird species, more than just a few sport such, with that set of birds including such disparate species as White-winged Scoter, Eared Grebe, Northern Gannet, Clark’s Nutcracker, and Snow Bunting.
Despite the trickiness of the angle and lighting, we have another excellent clue to our bird’s identity that will let us shortstop the ID process: The strong contrast between dark and white on the underparts. In fact, there is only one ABA-area species that sports both of our ID clues, and the suggestion of red on the head only confirms that. I took this picture of an adult Red-headed Woodpecker at Cape May Point, Cape May Co., NJ, on 29 April 2011.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the January Bird Photo Quiz—Red-Headed Woodpecker:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.