ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 48


Bird Photo

Frequent participants in the online photo quiz know that we tend to focus on structural clues in identifying birds. Many of these are found on the shape and size of a bird's bill. Of course, there are times in the field when you can't see a bird's head (and even more times when the bill is hidden in a photo quiz!).

In this case, there are three things that could/should stand out. First, this bird has a bright red rump, along with some reddish tones to the head and mantle. Second, this bird has relatively long wings with several primaries extending far beyond the tip of the tertials. Third, the bird is perched on what appears to be a fairly substantial amount of the white stuff—snow.

One group of birds should come to mind—finches. True, there are other birds that share these characteristics, but finches are frequently seen in the snow, have long wings and often have red in their plumage. If we can't find our bird there, we can always return to other groups.

Since the wings were helpful in bringing us to plumage, let's look at them more carefully. I know what you may be thinking—there isn't much else to look at—no wing bars, no broad edges to the tertials, in fact there appear to be no markings at all to the tertials. What can we look at! In this case, the absence of these markings are exactly what is useful. The great majority of finches have obviously patterned tertials. In fact, only one North American finch has dark brownish wings with no markings on tertials and greater coverts—Red Crossbill.

The red rump fits Red Crossbill, as does the more diluted red cast to the upperparts and head. If we need anything else, look closely at the pattern of the undertail coverts—bright white with some kind of dark pattern. That, too, fits Red Crossbill, which has white undertail coverts with dark centers to each feather.

This Red Crossbill was photographed in Hamilton County in Upstate New York, February 2007.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the March Bird Photo Quiz—Red Crossbill:

  1. kevin bolton, Prospect Park N.J
  2. Brian McAllister, Saranac Lake, NY
  3. Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA
  4. Petro Pynnönen, Helsinki, Finland
  5. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  6. Karl Erich Mayer, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
  7. Mikey Lutmerding, Frostburg, Maryland
  8. Karen Rubinstein, New York, NY
  9. Brandon Percival, Pueblo West, CO
  10. Nick Anich, Ashland, WI
  11. Sam Collins, Vancouver, BC
  12. E.J. Raynor, fairfield, ct
  13. John Bissell, Grimes, IA
  14. Diana Bradshaw, Damascus, OR
  15. Jessica Bruland, Damascus, MD
  16. Rich Swartzentruber, Salem, Oregon
  17. Ed Harper, Sacramento, CA
  18. David Perpinan, Barcelona, Spain
  19. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, ON
  20. Alex Ewing, Rocky Hill, NJ
  21. Kevin M. Kincaid, Indianapolis, IN
  22. David Bell, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  23. Wayne Meyer, Denison, TX
  24. Stephen Joly, Kamloops, BC
  25. Mike Burrell, Heidelberg, Ontario
  26. Bernard Grossman, Rexford, New York
  27. Pat Paternostro, Uniontown, Oh
  28. Sam Galick, Flemington, NJ
  29. Matt Pike, Baghdad Iraq
  30. Nels F. Thompson, Owatonna, MN
  31. Andrew Keaveney, Guelph, ON
  32. Vaughn Morrison, Todd, NC
  33. Nathan Swick, Chapel Hill, NC
  34. Sam Pratt, Inman, SC
  35. Tom Auer, Allouez, MI
  36. Grant Rettig, San Luis Obispo, CA
  37. Melissa Hein, North Branch, MN
  38. Ethan Kistler, Newton Falls, Ohio
  39. Michael Miller, Chicago, Illinois
  40. Aaron Barriger, Meriden,CT
  41. Don Koch, Salineville, Oh
  42. Brendan Fogarty, Garden City, NY
  43. JoHanna Stahl, Fordville, North Dakota
  44. Chris Warren, Portland, OR
  45. Ian Davies, Medford, MA
  46. Bill Glenn, Las Cruces, NM
  47. Jim Pawlicki, Williamsville, NY
  48. Jim Mountjoy, Galesburg IL
  49. Marcelo Brongo, Barcelona, Spain
  50. Dave Nurney, GB
  51. Haynes Werner, Beaufort, SC
  52. David Irons, Eugene, OR
  53. Phoebe Mundall, Tai Chung, TAIWAN
  54. Rob Fergus, Perkasie, PA
  55. Steven Mitten, Belize City, Belize
  56. Seabrooke Leckie, Toronto, Ontario
  57. Jennifer Perry, Deerfield, NH
  58. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  59. Olivier Barden, Quebec City, Qc
  60. Joshua Covill, Columbia Falls, MT
  61. Joshua D. Kreitzer, Enterprise, UT
  62. Charlie Corpening, Cumming, Georgia
  63. Nell haberman, Portland, Oregon
  64. Alan J. Knue, Seattle, WA
  65. Sarah J. Zastrow, Riverdale Park, MD
  66. lenny warren, topsham,me 04086
  67. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  68. Johanna Wielfaert, Britton, MI
  69. Ben Coulter, Erie, PA
  70. Susan Powell, Williamsburg, Virginia
  71. Marlene Jay Cashen, Veradale, Washington
  72. Robert Mottershead, Philadelphia, PA
  73. A. McAndrews, Xalapa, Veracruz
  74. Gerald J Brow, Cedar Michigan
  75. Rick Poulin, Ottawa, Ontario
  76. Edward Raynor, NY, NY
  77. Harry Hooper, Tallahassee, Florida
  78. Malkolm Boothroyd, Whitehorse, Yukon
  79. Lowell Young, Mariposa, CA
  80. Pam Baum, Tucson, AZ
  81. Cole Wolf, Albuquerque, NM
  82. Rhys jones, Waunfawr, UK
  83. Szilard Daroczi, Targu Mures, Romania
  84. Marc Ribaudo, Woodbridge, Va
  85. Steve Steimel, Severna Park, Md.
  86. Louie Toth, Fairview Hgts, IL
  87. Francesc Jutglar, Cardedeu, Spain
  88. Greg Gillson, Hillsboro, Oregon
  89. Tim Hochstetler, millersburg, OH
  90. Henry Wilton, Rutland, VT
  91. Joseph Lautenbach, Grand Rapids, MI
  92. Thomas Snetsinger, Brownsville, OR
  93. Sabrina Himschoot, Jonesboro, AR
  94. Andrew Deegan, Huntington, VT
  95. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, Oregon
  96. Kevin Welsh, Novi, Michigan
  97. John G Anderson, Reno, NV
  98. Jacob Saucier, Baton Rouge, LA
  99. David Copplestone, Lakefield, Ontario
  100. Sulli Gibson, Northfield, Illinois
  101. Eleanor Proctor, Peterborough, Ontario
  102. Philip Stahl, Fordville, Norh Dakota
  103. Oscar Johnson, Santa Barbara, CA
  104. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, OR
  105. John Habig, Carlisle, Ohio
  106. Robert Doster, Albuquerque, NM
  107. Anne Brown, Durham, NC
  108. Jon Atwood, Keene, NH
  109. Ryan Dudragne, Swift Current, SK
  110. Jonathan D. Lautenbach, Grand Rapids MI
  111. Julia Marko Dunn, Newmarket, Ontario
  112. Blue Rubinstein, New York, NY
  113. Andre Pelletier, La Prairie, Quebec, Canada
  114. James P. Smith, Amherst, MA
  115. Jeff Hole, Orlando, FL
  116. Myles Falconer, Lakefiled, ON, Canada
  117. Ben Young, Salem, OR
  118. Susannah Lerman, Amherst, MA

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.

Red Crossbill
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
House Finch
Eastern Towhee
Pine Grosbeak
Purple Finch
Cassin's Finch
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Redpoll
American Robin
Black-Headed Grosbeak
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Cliff Swallow
Orchard Oriole
California Towhee
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
Hermit Thrush
Hoary Redpoll
Horned Lark
Red-tailed Hawk
Scarlet Tanager
Seaside Sparrow
Vermilion Flycatcher


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