ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 124


If it weren’t for the yellow eye, we might have a heck of a time trying to figure out what is what on this quiz bird. With it, however, we know that the head is the upper-left part of the bird that appears to be preening its lower belly. We can see that the tail feathers, which hide the other eye, are dark and contrast only slightly with the somewhat-grayer rump. The sides/flanks are pale and the neck area seems to be somewhat paler than the head, but the posture makes it difficult to discern exactly where that possibly-paler color is.

As we must be looking at a waterbird, probably a swimming waterbird, we need to start the long process of determining to which swimming-waterbird group it belongs. The eye color actually goes a long way in this endeavor, ruling out all loons and grebes except Least Grebe (which is easily eliminated on plumage coloration), all tubenoses and cormorants, and most ducks and alcids. The rich, golden aspect of the eye color rules out any of the vaguely-yellow-eyed alcid species, leaving us with just a few duck species. The dark upperparts with no patterning at all contrasting with the paler sides winnows the solution set to just two duck species.

Separating Ring-necked and Tufted ducks is usually straightforward, assuming that we can see the head shape and correctly assess the coloration of the sides/flanks, but with this picture, we’re a bit hampered in both regards. Obviously, if we were watching this bird in the field, we could just wait a few seconds for either or both of these features to become evident, but we’re not in the field. We do, though, have another feature to use: That vague paler area on the neck. The brown neck ring giving Ring-necked Duck its name is an ephemeral feature, visible under only certain conditions, one of which is very short range, with the others being related to angle of light. Tufted Duck lacks this feature.

I am always reluctant to use just a single character to make an identification, so I find it gratifying that there is one more clue to this quiz bird’s identification. Looking carefully at the very right edge of the bird as photographed, we can see a strip of bright white on the front of the side contrasting with the grayer coloration of the rest of the side/flank, confirming our ID.

I took this picture of a male Ring-necked Duck at Sands Lake, Salida, Chaffee Co., CO, on 1 February 2013.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the April Bird Photo Quiz—Ring-necked Duck:

  1. Cliff Hawley - Sacramento, CA
  2. Nate McGowan - Austin, TX
  3. Kenny Frisch - Salt Lake City, UT
  4. Michael Lester - Haworth, NJ
  5. Carlos Ross - Austin, Texas
  6. Janchris Vicente - Tacoma
  7. Nicole Perkins - Kelso, WA
  8. Brenda Best - Durhamville, NY
  9. Stephen Kloiber - Pen Argyl, PA
  10. Jay Powell - NY
  11. Martin Sharp - Edmonton, Alberta
  12. Rob Fowler - McKinleyville, CA
  13. Kalen Malueg - Del Norte, Colorado.
  14. Nick Varvel - Olathe, Kansas
  15. Michael Kline - Fredericksburg Va.
  16. Andrew Aldrich - Aurora, IL
  17. Claude Auchu - La Pocatiere, Quebec
  18. John Hammond - Durham, NC
  19. Robert McNab - Laguna Niguel, California
  20. Jan Allen - Livingston, TX
  21. Joseph Bourget - Worcester
  22. Abril Heredia - Mexico City
  23. Mayn Hipp - Boston, MA
  24. Jim Mountjoy - Galesburg, IL
  25. Chris Blazo - Chambersburg, Pa
  26. Rick Poulin - Ottawa
  27. Darrel Wilder - Johnson City, TN
  28. Joseph Mosley - Willard, MO
  29. Robert Packard - Riverside, CA
  30. Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  31. Mike Freund - Seattle, WA
  32. Karl Erich Mayer - Tawas City, Michigan
  33. Terri Everett - Big Rapids, MI
  34. Laura Bunton - Arlington, TX
  35. Josh Parks - Fairbanks, AK
  36. Stephen Joly - Kamloops. BC
  37. Laure Neish - Penticton, BC Canada
  38. Kevin Brabble - Homosassa, FL
  39. Hayden Bildy - London, Ontario
  40. Erica Rutherford - Oakland
  41. Dan Vice Barrigada, - Guam
  42. Dean Nicholson - Cranbrook, B.C.
  43. Harvey Bass - Philadelphia, PA
  44. Greg Gillson - Beaverton, Oregon
  45. Andrew Miller - Partridge
  46. Joseph Miller - Nickerson, Kansas
  47. Casey Ryan - Arcata, CA
  48. Greg Prelich - New Rochelle, NY
  49. Jeff Moore - Roanoke, IN
  50. Michael S. Levy - Centereach, N.Y.
  51. Alex Bairstow - Oceanside, California
  52. John Brett - Toronto, ON
  53. Mike Fialkovich - Pittsburgh, PA
  54. Brian Menker - Dayton, Ohio
  55. Danny van den - Broek Gladstone, OR
  56. Dan Casey - Somers, MT
  57. Jason Kitting - Albuquerque, NM
  58. Don Pendleton - East Palo Alto, CA
  59. Samuel Ewing - Gainesville, FL
  60. Anya Auerbach - New York, NY
  61. Dustin Holschuh - Rock Falls,Il
  62. Gary Woods - Fresno,CA
  63. logan kahle - San Francisco, CA
  64. Chloe Walker - Murfreesboro, TN
  65. Jon Atwood - Keene, NH
  66. Kim Savides - Greenfield, IN
  67. Amy Darling - Denver, CO
  68. Nikki Narduzzi - Willoughby Hills, OH
  69. Bob Proctor - Elgin, Scotland
  70. Adrian Hinkle - Portland, OR
  71. David Hollie - Ringgold, GA
  72. Alex Wiebe - Takoma Park, MD
  73. Mark Scheuerman - Sugar Land
  74. Ellwood Meyers - Warren, PA 16365
  75. Terry Sisson - Olympia Wa.
  76. Joshua Stevenson - Nashville, TN
  77. Marcel Such - Lyons, CO
  78. Steve Hampton - Davis, CA
  79. Wayde Predmore - Sandy, OR
  80. Marcelo Brongo - Sant Cugat del Valles, Spain
  81. Evan Janson - Dallas,TX
  82. Alexandre Anctil - Chibougamau, Qc
  83. David Bowden - Oakland, CA
  84. Larry Kline - Fredericksburg, VA
  85. Brooke Keeney - Ithaca
  86. Kim Silver - Spring, MD
  87. Samantha S - OH
  88. Daroczi J. Szilard - Tg.-Mures, Romania
  89. aidan - new york
  90. Mike Wasilco - Caledonia, NY
  91. Peter Lane - Québec City, Canada
  92. Robert Doster - Chico, CA
  93. Nicholas Ranta - Clackamas, Oregon
  94. Nick Newberry - Oakton, VA
  95. Greg Zupansic - Eugene, Oregon
  96. Steven Bouyack - Columbus, Ohio
  97. John Votta - Brick, NJ
  98. Nicolas Bernier - Montreal, Qc
  99. Wesley Hatch - Chagrin Falls, OH
  100. Kyle Lima - Ellsworth, Maine
  101. Rosemarie Widmer - Allendale NJ
  102. Blake Mathys - West Mansfield, OH
  103. Kevin Michael Hill - SHORELINE, WA
  104. Claire Stuyck - Clemson, SC
  105. Kristen Martyn - Richmond Hill, ON
  106. ilan New - Ringgold, PA
  107. Jack Holloway - Mesa, AZ
  108. James McKay - Mesa, AZ
  109. Patty McKelvey - Sheffield Village, Ohio; USA
  110. Pam Myers - Santa Cruz, CA
  111. Vince Cavalieri - DeWitt, MI
  112. Andrew M - Plainview, NY
  113. Claire Miller - Fair Oaks, CA
  114. Wayne Meyer - Denison, TX
  115. Luke Hollander - Minneapolis, MN
  116. Su Snyder - Wooster, OH
  117. David Bell - Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  118. Ann Gibson - Winfield, BC

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.

Tufted Duck
Lesser scaup
Greater Scaup
Barrow's Goldeneye
Least Grebe
Muscovy Duck
White-winged Scoter


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