ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 120


Ah, a dilemma. There are two birds in the picture, and they really don’t look like they’re of the same species! Well, the front bird looks pretty straightforward: white eye patch, white-tipped metallic-blue secondaries, and long tail. This must be a Wood Duck.

Whoa, Nelly, not so fast. The amount of white on the face seems excessive for Wood Duck, particularly all that white in front of the eye. Looking at the back of the bird, we can see a coppery, sail-like tertial that strongly suggests Wood Duck’s congener (of the same genus), Mandarin Duck. Of course, this doesn’t really look like a female Mandarin – they do not sport so much white on the face, and the bird doesn’t look like one of those stunning male Mandarins. However, apparently, males of the species exhibit delayed plumage maturation and this should be a first-cycle male.

Of course, all of the above discussion is about a species that is not available for the solution to an ABA online quiz, as Mandarin Duck is not listed on the ABA-area checklist. In fact, that bird is a red herring to distract the easily distracted from the real quiz bird in the picture. The combination of strong reddish sides, bluish legs, pointed tail, white belly, and pale innermost secondary of that bird points to a female wigeon, but which one? There is not much visible on the bird that would help us make the call: we cannot see whether the blue bill has a black base or not, we cannot see the head color, and we certainly cannot see the axillaries on this bird’s folded wings! However, that pale innermost secondary is an excellent ID feature, when visible, and the fact that it is gray and obviously not white (as is the bird’s belly) makes the ID straightforward, as that feather on Eurasian Wigeons is white. This comparison of white vs. gray is opposite that of the differences between the two species in axillar color.

I took this picture of a female American Wigeon (with an immature male Mandarin Duck) at Pueblo City Park, Pueblo, Pueblo Co., CO, on 25 January 2012.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the January Bird Photo Quiz—American Wigeon:

  1. Daroczi J. Szilard - Tg.-Mures, Romania
  2. Kent Fiala - Hillsborough, NC
  3. James McKay - Mesa, AZ
  4. Terri Everett - Big Rapids, MI
  5. Kim Dohms - Shirley, BC
  6. Alexandre Anctil - Rimouski, Qc
  7. Samuel Ewing - Newberry, FL
  8. David Hollie - Ringgold, GA
  9. Thomas Hall - Livermore, Colorado
  10. Brian Bielfelt - Santa Clarita, CA
  11. Sean Williams - East Lansing, MI
  12. Dan Altif - Swiftwater, PA
  13. Wayne Meyer - Denison, TX
  14. Dean Nicholson - Cranbrook, B.C.
  15. Pam Myers - Santa Cruz, CA
  16. Barb Robertson - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  17. Andrew Miller - Partridge
  18. Karl Erich Mayer - Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
  19. Claude Morris - Austin
  20. Mike Wasilco - Caledonia, NY
  21. Mayn Hipp - Boston, MA
  22. Joseph Miller - Nickerson, Kansas
  23. Tanya Seebacher - Kelowna, BC
  24. Ann Gibson - Winfield, BC
  25. William Rockey - Esparto, CA
  26. Stephen Joly - Kamloops, BC
  27. Larry Kline - Fredericksburg, VA
  28. Josh Parks - Fairbanks, Ak
  29. Margaret Smith - Boulder, CO
  30. John Brett - Toronto, ON
  31. Claude Auchu - La Pocatiere, quebec
  32. Robert A. Young - Alexandria, va
  33. Michael Lester - Tucson, AZ
  34. Mike Freund - Seattle, WA

How Did You Compare?

As stated in the quiz rules, answers must consist simply of the Common or English name exactly as it appears in the ABA Checklist.

The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.

Wood Duck
Mandarin Duck
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon and Wood Duck
American Wigeon and Wood Duck Hybrid
Long-tailed Duck
American Wigeon and Mandarin Duck
Egyptian Goose
Wood Duck Northern Shoveler
Northern Shoveler and Mandarin Duck


The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.