ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 148


Most readers will have sussed that this month’s quiz bird is a swallow, either by recognizing the fact or using actual field marks, such as the bird’s small bill, wide-based and long wings, and underparts coloration, among other possibilities.  The quiz bird sports an obvious breast band on otherwise whitish underparts, a feature that should take us straight to Bank Swallow (Sand Martin to you European birders).  Right?  Well, we can certainly rule out most of the swallow species of regular occurrence in the ABA area using that distinctive breast band, but we cannot rule them all out.  Additionally, there is a species of very rare occurrence in the ABA area that exhibits a breast band:  Brown-chested Martin.

Bank Swallow sports a breast band in all post-downy plumages, as does Brown-chested Martin.  Bank Swallow nearly always exhibits a protrusion of that breast band a variable distance down the midline of the belly, but some individuals either lack that feature or show it so poorly as to be undetectable in most field conditions.  Individuals of some subspecies of Brown-chested Martin (including the subspecies that has been found in the ABA area) also sports that brown protrusion down the body’s midline.

So, is this one of the rare versions of Bank Swallow or a member of a different subspecies of Brown-chested Martin?  To answer that question, we’ll need to take our blinders off and ogle the rest of the bird.  Our swallow seems to have quite wide-based wings that make the wings look relatively short in comparison.  Though difficult to be sure due to the angle, the rear end of the body looks fairly wide and connected to a wide-based tail.  Bank Swallow typically shows a long and attenuated rear end and a narrow-based tail, along with fairly narrow-based wings that make the wings look extra long.  The bird’s tail does not appear to be notched, but even Bank Swallows can lose the notch-tailed appearance when the tail is spread, as in this photo.  Finally, Bank Swallow always shows a wider, darker, and more-distinct breast band than is shown by our quiz bird.  We may have to look elsewhere.

Though the wide-based wings shown by our bird are good for Brown-chested Martin, all Progne martins have very long wings, longer than the quiz bird exhibits.  Additionally, the bird’s breast band is too narrow and indistinct to be the breast band of a Brown-chested Martin and is not connected to extensive brown on the upper sides.  Again, we’ll have to look elsewhere.

If third time’s a charm, we’d better quickly come up with a breast-banded swallow among the rest of the ABA-area swallow options that don’t show breast bands.  As adults.  Ah, there’s the rub.  There is another ABA-area swallow species that sports a breast band in at least one plumage.  In fact, it is one of the most-common, most-widespread, and, perhaps, most-well-known swallow species in the ABA area.

I took this picture of a juvenile Tree Swallow in Osceola County, Michigan, on 16 July 2014.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the June 2015 Bird Photo Quiz —Tree Swallow:

  1. Jeffrey K. Hanson - PITTSFIELD
  2. Joel Nugent - Bellingham, Wa
  3. Marky M - Liberty, MO
  4. Isabel Apkarian - Toronto, Ontario
  5. Michael David - Winona, MO
  6. Martina Nordstrand - Indian Trail, NC
  7. Thomas Kallmeyer - Missoula, MT
  8. Scott Meyer - Richfield, MN
  9. Jeanne Tinsman - Las Vegas, NV
  10. Simon Kiacz - Holland, Michigan
  11. Tom Lally - Chicago, IL
  12. Laure Neish - Penticton, BC
  13. Sameer Apte - Shaker Heights, OH
  14. Rosemarie Widmer - Allendale NJ
  15. Alec Hopping - Littleton
  16. Wes Serafin - Orland pk
  17. Chris Blazo - Chambersburg, Pa
  18. Jerald Reb - Dover, DE
  19. William Rockey - Esparto, CA
  20. Chris Warren - Makawao, HI
  21. Nathan Webb - Elba, AL
  22. Aiden Moser - Henniker, NH
  23. Amy Darling - Denver, CO
  24. Kyle Lima - Ellsworth, Maine
  25. Beko Binder - Madison, WI
  26. Jack Holloway - Mesa, AZ
  27. Fyn Kynd - Searsmont, Maine
  28. Rahil Dixit - Pennsylvania
  29. Bridget - Vancouver, BC
  30. Noelle Wagner - Des Moines, Iowa
  31. Claude Auchu - La Pocatiere, Quebec
  32. Karl Erich Mayer - Tawas City, Michigan
  33. Darrel Wilder - Sun Lakes, AZ
  34. Mireille Barry Québec, QC
  35. Michael Taylor - Marble Hill, MO
  36. Sam Ewing - Gainesville, Florida
  37. Todd Alfes - Grand Forks, ND
  38. Logan Lalonde - Kelowna, BC
  39. Liam Waters - Sharon, MA
  40. Jeremy Collison - Albany, New York
  41. Caitlin Culligan - Eagle Rock, VA
  42. Josh Parks - Fairbanks, Alaska
  43. Casey - Fort Wayne, IN
  44. Joshua Glant - Seattle, WA
  45. Aidan Kiley - Fairfield, CT
  46. Michael Kline - Fredericksburg Va
  47. Alex Bairstow - Oceanside, CA
  48. Martin Sharp - Edmonton, AB
  49. Mike Fialkovich - Pittsburgh
  50. Anton Mach - Yardley, PA
  51. Josh Southern - Raleigh, NC
  52. George Cresswel - Colorado Springs, CO
  53. David Hollie - Ringgold, GA
  54. Terri Everett - Big Rapids, MI
  55. Pam Myers - Marysville, WA
  56. Kristen Martyn - Richmond Hill,ON
  57. Linda Pittman - Wilton, CA
  58. Amy Courtney - Juneau, AK
  59. Patty McKelvey - Sheffield Village, Ohio
  60. Barb Robertson - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  61. Isaac - Kamloops, BC
  62. Mike Wasilco - Caledonia, NY
  63. Ed Harper - Carmichael, CA
  64. Robert Packard - Riverside, CA
  65. Danny Tipton - Albuquerque, New Mexico
  66. Jon Atwood - Keene, NH
  67. "Daroczi J. Szilard " - Tg.-Mures, Romania
  68. Andrew Barndt - Hudson, Massachusetts
  69. Evan Lipton - Milton, MA
  70. Dave English - Chagrin Falls, OH
  71. Larry Kline - Fredericksburg, VA
  72. Celestyn Brozek - Albuquerque, NM
  73. Aaron R Polichar - San Diego, CA
  74. Jared Parks - Queenstown
  75. Bob Sicolo - Winter Park, FL
  76. Cathy Sheeter - Oradell, NJ
  77. Michael Scott Levy - Centereach, New York
  78. Lars S. Skalnes - OR
  79. Cal Walters - Piedmont, Ca
  80. Madeline Alfieri - Hammondsport, NY
  81. Macsen Enfield, - NH
  82. Carol Molander - Marion, MA
  83. Jason Vassallo - SEATTLE
  84. Bob Proctor - Elgin, Scotland
  85. Mark Burns - St. Petersburg, FL
  86. Blake Mathys - West Mansfield, OH
  87. Tom Ford-Hutchinson - Irvine, CA
  88. Claire Miller Fair - Oaks, CA
  89. Caleb Leininger - North Manchester, Indiana
  90. Andy Eckerson - Dighton, Massachusetts
  91. Andrew Miller Partridge
  92. Gyekeny Gertrude - Arad, Romania

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.

Bank Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Brown-chested Martin
Bahama Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Chimney Swift


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