ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 134

Answer

I will cut to the chase here, as this month’s quiz is obviously (well, it’s obvious to me, anyway) either a Downy Woodpecker or a Hairy Woodpecker. The other reasonable possibilities – sapsuckers and the other Picoides woodpeckers – all have extensive dark markings on, at least, the sides/flanks. (Yes, White-headed Woodpecker has sides/flanks with more than just black markings.)

My primary reason to using this picture for the quiz was to make myself finally buck up and figure out some difference in the face patterns of the two species. While someone out there may have figured it out, I hadn’t. Unfortunately, after hours and hours of staring at illustrations and a huge gob of pictures on Flickr, I still see nothing that reliably separates Downy and Hairy woodpeckers face patterns. Oh, there are a few features that are at least a bit suggestive, such as the tendency for Hairy to have at least some dark separating the nasal tuft from the white malar stripe, while Downy rarely, if ever, shows such. Hairy Woodpecker tends to have narrower lateral throat stripes than does Downy, but with only the slimmest such stripes being a good indicator of Hairy.

The ratio of length of the nasal tuft to bill length is an excellent character, with Downy’s bill typically being less than 1.5x the length of the nasal tuft, while Hairy’s is more than 2x the nasal-tuft length. But, I used this picture because bill length is obscured in it, thus forcing us to look elsewhere.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the plumage color and pattern in these two species is the fact that they clearly illustrate impacts by habitat. In the eastern subspecies of both species, the underparts are white and the wings are heavily marked with white. In the Rocky Mountains, both species show a great reduction in wing spotting, while in the Pacific Northwest, both species have replaced most areas of white plumage in Eastern birds with variably brownish coloration and, like the Rockies birds, reduced wing spotting.

Anyway, we are just going to have to look at our quiz bird’s undertail coverts and outer tail feathers. Though many birders know this good ID trick, I keep being surprised by the number of birders that don’t know it. Downy sports black spots/streaks on the lateral undertail coverts and black bars on the white outer tail feathers. Beware, though, that these markings are so light and/or restricted in some individuals that they are difficult or impossible to discern under field conditions. However, if there are noticeable dark marks on the undertails coverts and outer rectrices, the bird is not a Hairy!

I took this picture of a Downy Woodpecker at Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park, Sanilac Co., MI, on 17 March 2014.

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The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the December Bird Photo Quiz—Downy Woodpecker:

  1. Jackie Mize - Auburn, Alabama
  2. Charlotte Wasylik - Vermilion, Alberta
  3. Claire Miller - Fair Oaks, Ca
  4. David Rankin - Riverside
  5. Nick Block - Lewisburg, PA
  6. Ben Peters - Wenham, MA
  7. Jody Shugart - Metairie, Louisiana
  8. Kai Shaikh - Pittsburgh, PA
  9. Tom Lally - Chicago, IL
  10. Rob Fowler - McKinleyville, CA
  11. Harley Winfrey - Wheatland, MO
  12. Clifford Hawley - Sacramento, CA
  13. Anya Auerbach - New York, NY
  14. Carl Haynie - Sammamish, WA
  15. Tom Ford-Hutchinson - Irvine, CA
  16. Blake Mathys - West Mansfield, OH
  17. Kent Fiala - Hillsborough, NC
  18. Mary Frey - Covington, WA
  19. Shawn Layton - Princeton, NJ
  20. Don Lima - Ellsworth, ME
  21. Claude Auchu - La Pocatiere, Quebec
  22. Michael Lester - Tucson, AZ
  23. Michael David - Altoona, PA
  24. Katie Barnes - Sioux falls, SD
  25. Brennan Obermayer - Barrie, ON
  26. James Telford - Calgary, AB
  27. Chris Blazo - Chambersburg, Pa
  28. Nicole Guyton - Elkridge, MD
  29. Isaac - Kamloops, British Columbia
  30. Chuck Carlson - Ft. Peck, MT
  31. William Rockey - Esparto, CA
  32. Sean Burns - Florence, Oregon
  33. Greg Zupansic - Eugene, Oregon
  34. Bob Proctor - Elgin, Scotland
  35. Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky - Bethlehem, PA
  36. Lynda Kithil - Louisville, CO
  37. Michael Scott Levy - Centereach,N.Y.
  38. Casey Kovacic - Bloomington, MN
  39. Isaac Hosch - St. Paul, MN
  40. Hiram Herrera - Chula Vista, CA
  41. Robert Kerr - Mooresville Indiana
  42. Alec Olivier - Marquette Michigan
  43. Andrew Miller - Partridge
  44. Linda Pittman - Wilton, CA
  45. Frank Windbagger - Philadelphia, PA
  46. Elliott Gordon - Austin, TX
  47. Irvin Louque - Lake Charles, LA
  48. Robert Packard - Riverside, CA
  49. Jon Atwood - Keene, NH
  50. Justin Hopkins - Peoria, AZ
  51. Darrel Wilder - Johnson City, TN
  52. Dean Nicholson - Cranbrook, B.C.
  53. Mike Wasilco - Caledonia, NY
  54. Daroczi J. Szilard - Tg.-Mures, Romania
  55. David Hollie - Ringgold, GA
  56. Cal Walters - Piedmont, CA
  57. Terri Everett - Big Rapids, MI
  58. Josh Southern - Raleigh, NC
  59. Amy Darling - Denver, CO
  60. Scott B. Meyer - Richfield, MN
  61. Kyle Leader - Bainbridge Island
  62. Karl Mayer - Tawas City
  63. Kyle Lima - Ellsworth, Maine
  64. Jeffrey Alampi - Mays Landing, NJ
  65. Kevin Hill - SHORELINE, WA
  66. Aidan Vidal - Calgary, AB
  67. Beko Binder - Davis
  68. Brian Menker - Dayton,OH
  69. Dustin Holschuh - Rock Falls,Il
  70. Linda Fink - Grand Ronde, OR
  71. Chloe Walker - Murfreesboro, TN
  72. Paul Fenwick - Carmel Valley, CA
  73. beau schaefer - round lake beach, IL
  74. Mary Lollo - New York
  75. Joe Busse - Palatine, Il
  76. Patrice Domeischel - Setauket, NY
  77. Barb Duncan - Jefferson City, MO
  78. Joseph Miller - Nickerson, KS
  79. Don Jones - Middlebury, VT
  80. Scott Miller - Leslie, MO
  81. Evan Dalton - Belchertown, MA
  82. Liz Goulet - San Diego, CA
  83. Larry Kline - Fredericksburg, VA
  84. Sarah Jesup - Alexandria, VA
  85. Nick Minor - Libertyville, Illinois
  86. Barb Robertson - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  87. Joe Bates - Portland, ME
  88. John Branchflower - Portland, OR
  89. Peter Lane - Québec City, Canada
  90. Erika Kiley - Fairfield
  91. Chandler Hendrick - Chattanooga, TN
  92. Bryan Kelliher - gilmanton
  93. George Cresswell - Colorado Springs, CO
  94. Samuel Ewing - Gainesville, Florida
  95. Aidan Kiley - Fairfield
  96. Gary Woods - Fresno, CA
  97. Mike Gill - Arlington, VA
  98. Patty McKelvey - Sheffield Village, Ohio
  99. Wayne Meyer - Denison, TX
  100. Mireille Barry - Québec
  101. logan Kahle - San Francisco, CA
  102. Erica Rutherford - Oakland, CA
  103. Nick Newberry - Oakton, Va
  104. Eli Miller - Millersburg Ohio
  105. Max Wilson - Kensington, MD
  106. Caitlin McKinnell - Northampton MA
  107. Greg Schrott - Avon Park, FL
  108. Pam Myers - Santa Cruz, CA
  109. Simon Kiacz - Flushing, MI
  110. Jim Mountjoy - Galesburg, IL
  111. Liam Waters - Sharon, MA
  112. David Hubbard - Reno, NV
  113. Aidan Place - Pittsbugh, Pennsylvania
  114. Wesley Hatch - Chagrin Falls, OH
  115. Bob Archer - Portland, OR
  116. Claire Stuyck - Clemson, SC
  117. Nathan Webb - Elba, AL
  118. Celestyn Brozek - Albuquerque, NM
  119. Michael Kline - Fredericksburg Virginia
  120. Joshua LaCelle - Camden, NY
  121. James Mckay - Mesa, AZ
  122. Martin Sharp - Edmonton, Alberta
  123. Patty McKelvey - Sheffield Village, Ohio
  124. Andrew Aldrich - Downers Grove, IL
  125. Terence Land - Gore Bay, Ontario, Canada
  126. Alex Bairstow - Oceanside, CA
  127. Jason Vassallo - Seattle, WA
  128. Hayden Bildy - London, ON
  129. Travis Clemens - Fruitland, MD
  130. Austin Young - Filer, ID
  131. Nina Sitra - Sugar Land, TX
  132. Pete Fenner - East Peoria, IL
  133. Joseph Port - Townsend, WA
  134. Ed Harper - Carmichael, CA
  135. ben - lyndhurst,OH
  136. John Hammond - Durham, NC
  137. Andrea M - Vermillion, SD
  138. Kristen Martyn - Richmond Hill, ON

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.



Hairy Woodpecker
5
Nutall's Woodpecker
1

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