ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 149


The black back, hindneck, and crown and the elegance of that long neck should really take us immediately to Aechmophorus with no need to pass ‘Go’ or even to consider any other genus.  However, once there, things get just a bit sticky.  I would hazard to guess that a very large majority of ABA-area birders, when faced with a Swan Grebe (an old, alternate name for Western and Clark’s grebes), look at the bill and where the eye is relative to the black-white interface on the, well, face, make a specific ID, and move on.  It may seem quite nasty of me to use a pic of a Swan Grebe that shows neither feature!  However, I consider this quiz (well, all quizzes) as a teaching/learning opportunity.  Despite the usefulness of the aforementioned features, there really are other ways to differentiate Western and Clark’s grebes.

First off, be very, very happy that this quiz’s rules do not allow for hybrids, because hybrid Aechmophorus are not rare -- they’re simply under-reported – and given this view of our quiz bird, we could not at all be sure about ruling out the possibility.  Anyone with a modicum of skill and more-than-a-modicum of tenacity can find such a hybrid in many a large congregation of the genus.  In fact, take a look at the eBird map of the hybrid and note the concentration of such beasts in Colorado, where lives one of eBird’s best contributing bird counters and hybrid finders.

Secondly, and unfortunately for us, the bird is riding too low in the water for its flank coloration to be assessed.  Clark’s Grebes have paler flanks than do Western Grebes, with the former leaning to white and the latter leaning to slate, but with, perhaps, a bit of overlap betwixt the two.  So, we’re going to have to find another route to the solution, although, unlike nearly every other quiz at this venue, just guessing gives you a 50:50 shot!

While there may be an average difference in the color of the back in the two species, any such difference would be useable only in direct comparison (as it ain’t obvious!), so we’re going to have to use the pattern of the neck and rearcrown.  In all useful comparative features of these two species, Western is the darker of the two, and that holds true for neck and rearcrown.  On Clark’s Grebe, the black stripe going up the back of the neck is thinner than on Western, with the result that even from directly behind, white is visible on either side.  Also on Clark’s, the neck stripe does not flare when it approaches the crown patch.  Instead, there is a distinctly nearly-square meeting of neck stripe and crown patch, rather than Western’s smoothly curvilinear meeting of such, as illustrated by our quiz bird’s mate in the picture below.

I took this picture of Western Grebes at Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sheridan Co., MT, on 9 May 2015.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the August 2015 Bird Photo Quiz —Western Grebes:

  1. Mary Rusch - Dunedin fl. 34698
  2. Gaetan Dupont - Concord, MA
  3. Jeffrey K. Hanson - PITTSFIELD
  4. Tom Lally - Chicago, IL
  5. Ron Bishop - Lehigh Acres, Fl.
  6. Angus Pritchard - Decatur, GA
  7. Scott Meyer - Richfield, MN
  8. John Sterling - Woodland, CA
  9. Robert Packard - Riverside, CA
  10. Michael Kline - Fredericksburg Va.
  11. Michael Scott Levy - Centereach, New York
  12. Chris Blazo - Chambersburg, PA
  13. Josh Parks - Fairbanks, Alaska
  14. Dean Nicholson - Cranbrook, B.C.
  15. Jack Holloway - Mesa, AZ
  16. hiram herrera - chula vista, ca
  17. Nathan Webb - Elba, AL
  18. David funke - Manchester ct
  19. John Tramontano - Warwick, Pa.
  20. Aiden Moser - Henniker, NH
  21. Adam Betuel - Terre Haute, IN
  22. Ryan Zucker - New York, NY
  23. David Williams - Clayton, NC
  24. Gerry Hawkins - Arlington, VA
  25. Fulvio Old - Greenwich ct
  26. Frank Mantlik - Stratford, CT
  27. Greg Prelich - Manchester, NJ
  28. Lance Runion - Little Rock,AR
  29. Terri Everett - Big Rapids, MI
  30. Erik Enbody - New Orleans, LA
  31. Alison Beringer - Bloomfield, NJ
  32. Joshua Glant - Seattle, WA
  33. Joe Coppock - Sioux Falls, SD
  34. Jackie Allison - Nipomo, California
  35. Tim Kalbach - Dunedin, Florida
  36. Kristen Martyn - Richmond Hill, ON
  37. Kenneth Trease - Spokane, Wa
  38. Amy Darling - Denver, CO
  39. Peter Thoem - Burlington, ON.
  40. Susan Young - Boynton Beach, Florida
  41. Christine Sierra - Madre, ca
  42. Claude Auchu - La Pocatiere, Quebec
  43. Regan Goodyear - Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada
  44. Patch Davis - Sarasota
  45. David Goodyear - Bracebridge, Ontario
  46. Danny Tipton - Albuquerque, New Mexico
  47. Todd Alfes - Grand Forks, ND
  48. Mireille Barry - Quebec, QC
  49. Urs Geiser - Woodridge, IL
  50. David Rankin - Riverside
  51. Paul Glass - South Boston, VA
  52. Sharon Gilchrist - Livingston, TX
  53. Alec Hopping - Littleton
  54. Joel Nugent - Bellingham, Wa
  55. Chris Warren - Makawao, HI
  56. Beth Ann Doerring - Colorado Springs
  57. Chuck Carlson - Ft. Peck, MT
  58. Karl Erich Mayer - Tawas City, Michigan
  59. Robert Doster - Chico, CA
  60. Sameer Apte - Shaker Heights, OH
  61. Max Wilson - Kensington, MD
  62. Beko Binder - Madison
  63. Wes Serafin - Orland pk,il
  64. Tom Ford-Hutchinson - Irvine, CA
  65. Isabel Apkarian - Toronto, Ontario
  66. Wes Hatch - Dunwoody, GA
  67. David Hollie - Ringgold, GA
  68. Kyle Lima - Ellsworth, Maine
  69. Larry Kline - Fredericksburg, VA
  70. Andrew Hawkins - Yorktown, Va
  71. Liam Waters - Sharon, MA
  72. Andrew Barndt - Hudson, Massachusetts
  73. Nathan Dubrow - Ipswich, Massachusetts
  74. Elaine Long - Monroe, NC
  75. Henrique Pacheco - Toronto, Ontario
  76. Madalyn Yochem - Corpus Christi, TX
  77. Madeline Alfieri - Hammondsport, NY
  78. Amy Courtney - Juneau, AK
  79. Jeff Cole - Xalapa, Veracurz
  80. Pete Fenner - East Peoria, IL
  81. Erica Rutherford - Oakland, CA
  82. Brian E. Small - Sherman Oaks
  83. Caroline Martin - Calgary, AB
  84. Georgia Conti Patzcuaro - Michoacan, Mexico
  85. George Cresswell - Colorado Springs, CO
  86. Jeff Bogan Bethel - Park, PA
  87. Aaron R Polichar - San Diego, CA
  88. Pam Myers - Marysville, WA
  89. Martina Nordstrand - Indian Trail, NC
  90. Mike Wasilco - Caledonia, NY
  91. Dan Cowell - Holden, MO
  92. Varick Cowell - Holden, MO
  93. tom graham - seabrook. nh
  94. Peter Lane - Québec (Canada)
  95. Caleb Leininger - North Manchester, Indiana
  96. Tracy Mullen - Seattle, WA
  97. Andrew Theus - Berrien Springs, MI
  98. Sarah Bell - Herndon, KY
  99. Gary Woods - Fresno, CA
  100. Nicholas Renz - St. Louis, Missouri
  101. Chris Bennett - Milford, DE
  102. Macsen Elkouh - Enfield, New Hampshire
  103. Cathy Sheeter - Oradell, NJ
  104. Tim Johnson - Pittsburgh, PA
  105. Andy Eckerson - Dighton, Massachusetts
  106. Kirk LaGory - Downers Grove, IL
  107. Isaac - Kamloops, BC
  108. Greg Zupansic - Eugene, Oregon
  109. Abram Fleishman - Santa Cruz, CA
  110. Sam Ewing - Gainesville, Florida
  111. Eric Heisey - Granger, WA
  112. Kolby Olson - Rancho Cucamonga/California
  113. Noelle Wagner - Des Moines, Iowa
  114. sharon farris - Newport, DE
  115. Josh Southern - Raleigh, NC
  116. Wayne Meyer - Denison, TX
  117. Daroczi J. Szilard - Tg.-Mures, Romania
  118. Emrys Elkouh - Enfield, New Hampshire
  119. Christian Hagenlocher - Choteau, MT
  120. Korina Shipstad - Florence Oregon

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.

Clark's Grebe


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