ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 142


This month’s quiz birds are incredibly long-winged (note the ratio of body width to wingspan) and seem to be entirely (or nearly so) dark-plumaged. The birds are so long-winged relative to body width that we can jettison entire orders from consideration, leaving us with just albatrosses and frigatebirds. While the angle of the picture and the lack of water therein would be quite odd for albatrosses – one does not typically find them gliding on the level without the ocean in view immediately below them, I would not put it past the quizmaster to have just some such contrived photo to throw us off.

With the caveat provided in the quiz picture, our options are pared to just three: Black-footed and Laysan albatrosses and Magnificent Frigatebird; all other ABA-area species in these two groups are rarities (ABA codes >2). The dark underparts of the upper bird rules out Laysan Albatross, so also rules that species out when considering the lower bird (only one species is permitted in ABA online photo quizzes; see rules).

While we can ponder the color of the birds and whether it is too dark for Black-footed Albatross or not, we can shortcut the process by looking at the upper bird’s posture. The wings are in something of a modified dihedral: the inner parts of both wings are angled above the level and then angled back to near level (actually below level here). The really odd point about that downward kink is that it is so close to the body, not at the wrist. Most bird species’ wings cannot bend here, but the really, really long-winged species can, though I have no idea how. However, that doesn’t matter for quiz-takers, as it is more important for them to know that it happens and in which species it does. The critical facet for this quiz is that the innermost portion is raised above the level, and that makes these birds frigatebirds, and noting that posture, one can identify a soaring or gliding bird to the genus at incredible distance, though one then still has the really hard part of the ID to go.

As good examples of this odd wing posture, see the three linked pictures below, Magnificent Frigatebirds by Chan Hawkins and Laysan Albatross by Cameron Rutt:


Note in both pictures that there are two downward kinks in the wings of both frigatebirds and the albatross (though it is quite subtle in the albatross), the outer one being at the wrist, the inner one being somewhere between the wrist and the body. The important point, though, is that in both frigatebirds the inner part of the wing is angled upward, while in the albatross, it is nearly level.
Of course, the quiz picture also has a hard plumage clue: the white on the belly of the lower bird. While we’ve already ruled Laysan Albatross out on underparts color, we can now rule out Black-footed Albatross for the same reason. Yes, there are Black-footed x Laysan Albatross hybrids, but the rules for the quiz effectively rules those out, too.

I took this picture of Magnificent Frigatebirds (upper: adult male; lower: female and/or immature) at Smith Point, Chambers Co., TX, on 20 September 2013, two individuals taking part in an unparalleled spectacle at the location (see www.flickr.com/photos/tony_leukering/9855055023 and www.flickr.com/photos/tony_leukering/9855012136 as examples).


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

  1. Nick Block - Easton, MA
  2. Elliot Schunke - Tallahassee, FL
  3. Andrew R Sewell - COLUMBUS
  4. J. Kyron Hanson - Pittsfield, MA
  5. Karl Erich Mayer - Tawas City, Michigan
  6. Lynn Jones - New Haven, CT
  7. Tom Lally - Chicago, IL
  8. Chip Bauer - Baltimore, Maryland
  9. Christian Schwarz - Santa Cruz
  10. Andrew Aldrich - Chicago, Illinois
  11. Mike Pierce - Theresa, NY
  12. Joshua Stevenson - Nashville
  13. Tom Ford-Hutchinson - Irvine, CA
  14. Scott Meyer - Richfield, MN
  15. Christopher Eliot - Brooklyn, NY
  16. Carlos Ross - Austin, Texas
  17. Eric Heisey - Granger, WA
  18. Blake Mathys - West Mansfield, OH
  19. Josh Southern - Raleigh, NC
  20. Geoff Anderson - St. Louis, MO
  21. Martin Sharp - Edmonton, Alberta
  22. Dean Nicholson - Cranbrook, B.C.
  23. Claude Auchu - La Pocatiere, Quebec
  24. Alec Hopping - Littleton, CO
  25. William Hutcheson - Concord, MA
  26. Mark Cranford - Mississauga, ON
  27. David shoch - Charlottesville, VA
  28. Don Lima - Ellsworth, ME
  29. Kyle Lima - Ellsworth, Maine
  30. Emma Olsen - Pound Ridge, NY
  31. James Telford - Calgary
  32. Joshua Glant - Seattle, WA
  33. Mike Wasilco - Caledonia, NY
  34. Robert Proniewych - Uniondale, New York
  35. Rob Fergus - Union Township, NJ
  36. Jack Holloway - Mesa, AZ
  37. Hiram Herrera - chula vista, ca
  38. Bridget - Vancouver, BC
  39. Chris Warren - Makawao, HI
  40. Andy Petter - Woodway, TX
  41. Carol Foil - Satsuma, FL
  42. Brian Menker - Dayton, OH
  43. Joshua Christian - Hanover, MN
  44. Darrel Wilder - Sun Lakes, AZ
  45. Eli M. Miller - Millersburg Ohio
  46. Isaac Sanchez - Austin, TX
  47. Rosemarie Widmer - Allendale NJ
  48. Brian Davis - Louisville, KY
  49. Brian Bielfelt - Santa Clarita, CA
  50. Amy Darling - Denver, CO
  51. MIles Brengle - Ipswich, MA
  52. Nathan Webb - Elba, AL
  53. William Rockey - Esparto, CA
  54. Gautam Apte - Shaker Heights, OH
  55. Greg Zupansic - Eugene, Oregon
  56. Chloe Walker - Murfreesboro, TN
  57. Richard Tiede - San Jose CA
  58. Chris Blazo - Chambersburg, PA
  59. Greg Prelich - Manchester, NJ
  60. Rob Young - Alexandria, va
  61. Jasen Liu - Palo Alto, CA
  62. Justyn Stahl - San Clemente Island, CA
  63. Jared Parks - Church Hill, MD
  64. Linda Pittman - Wilton, CA
  65. Anya Auerbach - New York, NY
  66. Peter Crosson - Osterville, MA
  67. Bob Proctor - Elgin, Scotland
  68. Kevin Hill - Lynnwood, WA
  69. Jilly Rodriguez Mendez - Oaxaca, Mexico.
  70. Eric Antonio Martinez - Oaxaca, Mexico.
  71. Steven Bouyack - Broadview Heights, OH
  72. Irvin Louque - Lake Charles, LA
  73. Matthew Press - Sarasota, FL
  74. Mireille Barry - Québec, QC
  75. Danny Tipton - Albuquerque, New Mexico
  76. David Hollie - Ringgold, GA
  77. Lauren Gibson - Westford, VT
  78. Evan Lipton - Milton, MA
  79. Patty McKelvey - Sheffield Village, Ohio
  80. barry mantell - palm springs, california
  81. Andrew Theus - Berrien Springs, MI
  82. Cathy Sheeter - Aurora, CO
  83. Wes Hatch - Sandy Springs, GA
  84. Michael Kline - Fredericksburg Va.
  85. Liam Waters - Sharon, MA
  86. Sean Williams - East Lansing, MI
  87. Jon Atwood - Keene, NH
  88. Sam Ewing - Gainesville, Florida
  89. Robert Packard - Riverside, CA
  90. John Tramontano - Warwick, Pa.
  91. Tracy Mullen - Seattle, WA
  92. Jack Rogers - Mt Pleasant, SC
  93. Fyn Kynd - Searsmont, Maine
  94. David Tonnessen - Colorado
  95. logan kahle - San Francisco, CA
  96. Carson Lambert - Virginia
  97. Owen Strickland - Toronto, Ontario
  98. Kevin Ebert - chevy chase
  99. Richard Wilt - Green Valley Arizona
  100. Niko Ranta - Clackamas, Oregon
  101. Logan Lalonde - Kelowna, B.C.
  102. Martina Nordstrand - Indian Trail, North Carolina
  103. Claire Stuyck - Seneca, SC
  104. Liz Day - Indianapolis, IN
  105. Alex Lin-Moore - New Haven, Connecticut
  106. Andrew Marden - Franklin Lakes, NJ
  107. Simon Kiacz - Holland, MI
  108. Rita Fowell - Drayton valley, Alberta
  109. Rosemary Kramer - Thomaston, GA
  110. John Shamgochian - East Providence, RI
  111. Paul Riley - Norwood, MA
  112. Barb Robertson - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  113. Kristen Martyn - Richmond Hill, ON
  114. George Cresswell - Colorado Springs, CO
  115. Max Kirsch - Granger, IN
  116. Colton Prins - Redcliff, AB
  117. Pete Fenner - East Peoria, IL
  118. Avery Chan - Oviedo, Florida
  119. Larry Kline - Fredericksburg, VA
  120. Aiden Moser - Henniker, NH
  121. Rahul Mukherjee - Sandy, Utah
  122. Fonda Hivick - colorado springs, colorado
  123. Joseph Miller - Nickerson, Kansas
  124. Steve Juhasz - Mission, BC
  125. Alyssia Church - Pine Grove Mills, PA
  126. Ben Wiens - Gunnison, CO
  127. Ed Harper - Carmichael, CA
  128. Benjamin Shamgochian - East Providence, RI
  129. Terri Everett - Big Rapids, MI
  130. Brennan Obermayer - Barrie, ON
  131. Scott Miller - Leslie, MO
  132. Nina Sitra - Sugar Land, TX
  133. Hannah Tripp - King George, VA
  134. Isaac - Kamloops, BC
  135. Nate Martineau - Lansing, MI
  136. Shelby McNemar - Tampa, FL
  137. "Daroczi J. Szilard " - Tîrgu Mureș
  138. Gyekeny Gertrúd - Arad, Romania
  139. Alec Olivier - Marquette, Michigan
  140. Jonathan Frodge - Cincinnati Ohio
  141. Steve Noseworthy - Santa Fe
  142. Nick Newberry - Oakton, Virginia
  143. Jonah Joffe - Wynnewood, PA
  144. Ron Pozzi - Granite Bay, CA
  145. Andy Eckerson - Dighton, Massachusetts

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.

Black-footed Albatross
Black Skimmer
Great Black-backed Gull
Pomarine Jaeger
Frigate Bird
Glossy Ibis
Great Cormorant
Great Frigatebird
Laysan Albatross
Little Blue Heron
Parasitic Jaeger


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