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Passerines in flight, you either hate ‘em or love ‘em. If you couldn’t tell from my body of online photo-quiz work, I’m a longtime resident of the latter camp. This bird flew over friends and me at Dingman’s Marsh, Cheboygan Co., MI, on 1 June 2014, and I photographed it primarily to be able to attempt identification of it as it motored quickly overhead; I don’t think that I could have managed an ID with a binocular due to time constraints.
Our quiz bird is not showing us much and it does not seem to sport much in the way of distinctive field marks, but it must be identifiable, else the picture would not be showing up in this venue. The critical first step in its identification is noting the pale wing stripe that is formed by yellowish bases to the secondaries and inner primaries. Without that character, I don’t know where one would wind up in ones ID travails. But, with it, we know to start among the Catharus thrushes, as it is characteristic of the genus, at least of the ABA-area members of the genus. It is also characteristic of a few other thrush species, but the contrastingly dark head and short tail rule out Townsend’s Solitaire, the underparts color pattern (or lack thereof) rules out Varied Thrush, and the bird does not sport Wood Thrush’s large-and-obvious black spotting underneath. So, we’ll stick with those brown thrushes with more-subtle spotting below.
Once in Catharus, the task becomes, actually, fairly simple. Most members of the genus have distinct dark spotting on the chest that extends to the upper belly in many, though nothing like the degree of Wood Thrush. Even Russet-backed Thrush (the Pacific-slope form of Swainson’s), which has less-obvious spotting than does Olive-backed Thrush (the more-widespread form of Swainson’s), still boasts spotting that we should be able to see, given this view. While some Veeries have distinct spotting below, most do not, nor does our quiz bird, which is a Veery.
I took this picture of the back end of a Veery at Dingman’s Marsh, Cheboygan Co., MI, on 1 June 2014
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the July Bird Photo Quiz—Veery:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.