ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 33


Bird Photo

When dealing with a relatively uneventful bird such as this, it's best to return to the basics and focus on size and shape/structure. In this case, it's hard to make out the size for certain, but we can make a reasonable assumption from the twig that this is a fairly small bird. The best clue to place this bird in the correct family is the bill, which is relatively thick (that is to say thicker than a vireo or warbler, but thinner than a grosbeak). Orioles may come to mind, but even the relatively thick-billed Altamira Oriole would have a proportionately longer and thinner bill than this. Sparrows merit consideration, but the bill seems somewhat more pointed than most sparrows, and the combination of pale wing bars and a white base to the primaries doesn't fit any of those species.

Another clue to the identification of this bird is the length of the wings and tail. Here the wings appear relatively long, and the notched tail appears relatively short. This, in combination with the suffusion of yellow on the throat and breast, should call to mind the finches, in particular the Carduelis finches, or goldfinches – Lawrence's, American, and Lesser Goldfinch and the Pine Siskin (and some vagrants and exotics, but we should only consider those if none of the regularly occurring ABA species match).

The wing pattern and overall coloration allow us to easily eliminate Pine Siskin and Lawrence's Goldfinch. Looking carefully at the wing bars, we see that they are fairly narrow and drab. American Goldfinch should have broader wing bars. Also note the lack of any white coloration that would be present on an American Goldfinch. The drab brownish-olive upperparts without rich buff coloration are also typical of drab female and immature Lesser Goldfinches.

This Lesser Goldfinch was photographed by the author in La Veta, Huerfano Co., Colorado in late December 2004.


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

  1. Kyle Horner, Guelph, Ontario
  2. Tom Benson, San Bernardino, CA
  3. Rick Wright, Tucson, AZ
  4. Maggie MacPherson, Guelph, ON
  5. John O. Gluth, Brentwood, NY
  6. Orrin Harvey, Tucson, AZ
  7. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, Ont
  8. Robert Lengacher, Tallahassee, FL
  9. Philip Kline, Tucson, AZ
  10. Bonnie Liebers, Niskayuna, NY
  11. Mark Brown, Dalmatia, Pa
  12. Tracy McCarthey, Tempe, AZ
  13. Peter Dedicoat, Stafford, UK
  14. Alan J. Knue, Seattle, WA
  15. Bill Maynard, Colorado Springs CO
  16. Craig Bateman, Novi, MI
  17. Manolo Mondejar, Taos,NM
  18. Steven Mitten, Belize City, Belize
  19. Don Burt, Anaheim, CA
  20. Kevin Hill, Seattle, WA
  21. Graham Etherington, Norwich, UK
  22. Ben Meadors, North Little Rock, AR
  23. Wayne Meyer, Denison, TX
  24. Stephen Joly, Kamloops, BC
  25. Marcel Gauthier, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC, Canada
  26. Tim McFadden, Philadelphia, PA
  27. Nathan Swick, Chapel Hill, NC
  28. Ed Harper, Sacramento, CA
  29. Luke Seitz, Falmouth, ME
  30. Francisco Martinez, Chicago, IL
  31. Matt Anthony, Bel Air, MD
  32. Robert Furrow, Cambridge, MA
  33. Jason Waanders, Washington, DC
  34. Brandon Percival, Pueblo West, CO
  35. Will Richardson, Truckee, CA
  36. Mark Chao, Ithaca, NY
  37. rob young, alexandria, VA
  38. Phillip J. Kenny, Vienna, VA
  39. Bruce Dugger, Albany, OR
  40. Carol Perry, Las Vegas, NV
  41. Valerie Alzner, Bel Air, MD
  42. Alex Vinokur, Casselberry, FL
  43. Johanna Wielfaert, Britton, MI
  44. Tim White, Hilton Head Island, SC
  45. Larry Lade, Saint Joseph, MO
  46. Jeremy Faucher, Enfield CT
  47. Jim Hulsey, Henderson, NV
  48. Stephanie Smith, Lansing, MI
  49. Marc Ribaudo, Woodbridge, VA
  50. Marcelo Brongo, Barcelona, Spain
  51. Mary Chambers, Davis, CA
  52. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  53. John Yerger, State College, PA
  54. Gabe Johnson, Cherry Hill, NJ
  55. Arun Bose, Richmond, VA
  56. Jim Hoover, Jefferson Hills, PA
  57. L. Craig Swanson, Benton City, WA
  58. Roxanne Clark, Eugene, OR
  59. Thomas Lally, Chicago, IL
  60. Ryan Dudragne, Saskatoon, SK
  61. Melissa Hein, North Branch, MN
  62. Sherry Punak-Murphy, Shilo, Manitoba, Canada
  63. Aaron Boone, Columbus, OH
  64. Blue Rubinstein, New York, NY
  65. George Cresswell, Colorado Springs, CO
  66. Larry Kline, Woodbridge, VA
  67. Jim Gilbert, Bernardsville, NJ
  68. Nikolas Kotovich, Great Barrington, MA
  69. David Simpson, Rockledge, FL
  70. Michael Woodruff, Spokane, WA
  71. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, OR
  72. Bert Harris, Huntsville, AL
  73. Brett Scheffers, Culpepper, VA
  74. Ben Young, Salem, OR
  75. Joshua Kreitzer, Provo, UT
  76. Ken Allen, Tampa, FL
  77. Judy Teague, Durham, NC
  78. Macy Brown, Leander, TX
  79. José Luis Copete, Barcelona, Spain
  80. Penny Soares, Huntersville, NC
  81. Claire Curry, Greenwood, TX
  82. Karen Rubinstein, New York, NY
  83. Maria Comsa, Santa Cruz, CA
  84. Francesc Jutglar, Cardedeu, Spain
  85. Craig D. Dodson, Clifton, CO
  86. Casey Tucker, Columbus, OH
  87. James Restivo, EcoTravel Assistant, Groton, CT
  88. Urs Geiser, Woodridge, IL
  89. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  90. Robert Doster, Albuquerque, NM
  91. Carrie Braden, Portage la Prairie, MB
  92. Peter Burke, Peapack, NJ
  93. Harry Hooper, Tallahassee, FL
  94. Gary Bird, Maxeys, GA
  95. Petro Pynnönen, Helsinki, Finland
  96. Enrique Zamora, Ensenada, Baja California
  97. Mary Ann Dudragne, Swift Current, Sk
  98. Laurent Dudragne, Swift Current, Sk
  99. Mr Bertram E.B. BREE, Jersey Island, Channel Isles near France, Europe
  100. Travis A. Mahan, Decatur, IL
  101. Jared Caster, Hannibal NY
  102. Jason McGuire, London, ON
  103. Dan Skoubye, Colorado Springs, CO
  104. Tim Hochstetler, Millersburg, OH
  105. Yves Gauthier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  106. Nels F. Thompson, Owatonna, MN
  107. Patty Gates, Brooklyn, NY
  108. Rich Swartzentruber, Salem, OR
  109. Steven Gedeon, Oradell, NJ
  110. Micah Malueg, Hooper, CO
  111. Joshua Malueg, Hooper, CO
  112. Kyle Carlsen, Vincent, OH
  113. David Hollie, Ringgold, GA
  114. Sandra Lautrup, Effingham, IL
  115. Eddie Mundall, Klamath Falls, OR
  116. Laurina Mundall, Klamath Falls, OR
  117. David Lee, Mauston, WI
  118. Jim Kopitzke, Mesa, AZ
  119. Patrick Dechon, Ellenville, NY
  120. Andrew Keaveney, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  121. Michael Dossett, Corvallis, OR
  122. Rachel King, Brooklyn, NY
  123. Kendall Green, Brooklyn, NY
  124. Roberto Cavalieros, Brooklyn, NY
  125. Cynthia Taylor, Tucson, AZ
  126. Marcus Mundall, Williamsport, MD
  127. Jon Mundall, Connell, WA
  128. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, OR

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.

Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
Pine Siskin
Lazuli Bunting
Tufted Titmouse
Brown-headed Cowbird
Cassin's Finch
Eastern Phoebe
White-winged Crossbill
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Acadian Flycatcher
Baltimore Oriole
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Brewer's Sparrow
Bullock's Oriole
Common Chaffinch
Eastern Towhee
House Finch
House Sparrow
Lawrence's Goldfinch
Pine Warbler
Red Crossbill
Song Sparrow
Varied Bunting
Western Spindalis
Western Tanager


The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Chris Wood.