ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 49


Bird Photo

Structure, structure, structure. While it's difficult to make out subtle details with a bird facing directly at you, we can still see that this bird's bill is relatively short (much shorter than, say, a yellowlegs) and relatively thin and narrow (more so at least than, say, a Song Sparrow or a bunting). And our bird is perched in a tree or shrub—not on the ground or on the beach.

This, combined with brownish streaking across the breast and a broad pale supercilum, should bring us to a small handful of birds. Pipits are plausible, but the common pipits in North America are infrequently seen in trees, so let's consider them only if we don't come up with another option. Thrushes don't fit because they have spotting on the breast, not streaking as on our bird. While sparrows are streaked, the bill seems too small and the overall coloration doesn't quite fit any species.

Brown and white plumage isn't something typically associated with warblers, but the two waterthrushes fit our bird quite well. Ovenbird is similar, but has a bold white eye ring and paler lores.

Separating the two waterthrushes is often quite challenging...and a single photo can prove particularly misleading. The supercilium of Louisiana is broader and bolder than on Northern, and this bird seems to have a broad supercilum from what little we can see. But at this angle, it's a bit of a stretch to see this well. Our bird may also be raising its' crown feathers, which could lead us to misinterpret this oft quoted field mark.

Fortunately, we can see two things very clearly. First, the throat appears completely unmarked—a feature typical of Lousiana Waterthrush (Northern are usually streaked on the throat). Second, and perhaps most importantly, the streaking across the breast is quite sparse and appears washed out. The lower breast has very short streaks and the belly is white. On Northern Waterthrush the streaking across the breast is bolder, darker, and far more extensive. This difference is quite clear cut on this particular bird—no Northern Waterthrush would have such limited streaking on the underparts.

This Louisiana Waterthrush was photographed near San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico in March 2007.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the April Bird Photo Quiz—Louisiana Waterthrush:

  1. Mike Burrell, Heidelberg, Ontario
  2. Joshua Covill, Columbia Falls, MT
  3. Brandon Percival, Pueblo West, CO
  4. Ethan Kistler, Newton Falls, Ohio
  5. Alan Meijer, Pantego, NC
  6. Karl Erich Mayer, Saint Clair Shores, MI
  7. Steven Rodan, Cape May, NJ
  8. Mikey Lumerding, Frostburg, MD
  9. Urs Geiser, Woodridge, IL
  10. Adam Nisbett, Saint James, MO
  11. Brian E. Small, Los Angeles, CA
  12. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  13. Jeremy Faucher, Enfield CT
  14. Anthony Bledsoe, Pittsburgh, PA
  15. Jill Buckley, Socorro, NM
  16. Philip Kline, Tucson, AZ
  17. David Bell, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  18. George Cresswell, Colorado Springs, CO
  19. Jay Keller, Arlington, VA
  20. André Pelletier, La Prairie, Quebec, Canada
  21. Curtis Dykstra, Washington, NC
  22. Micah Malueg, Hooper, CO
  23. Alex Ewing, Rocky Hill, NJ
  24. Sophie Cauchon, La Prairie, Quebec, Canada
  25. Phoebe Mundall, Tai Chung , TAIWAN
  26. Michael Miller, Chicago. Illinois
  27. Rick Poulin, Ottawa Ontario
  28. Josh Southern, Apex, NC
  29. Nicholas Pederson, Albuquerque, NM
  30. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  31. Jonathan Comeau, Williston, VT
  32. Larry Mays, Newcastle, OK
  33. John Bissell, Grimes, IA
  34. Sam Galick, Flemington, NJ
  35. kurt Pohlman, kaneohe Hi.
  36. Nicholas Block, Chicago, IL
  37. Marc Ribaudo, Woodbridge, VA
  38. Don Koch, Salineville, OH
  39. Frances Geller, New York, NY
  40. Gay McDougall, Beaconsfield, QC
  41. Lisa Snowberg, Austin, TX
  42. June Taylor, Stafford, UK
  43. Louie Toth, Fairview Heights, IL
  44. John Britt, Bakersville, NC
  45. Claire Gribbin, Seattle, WA
  46. Linda Long, Chandler, AZ
  47. Eric Huston, Olympia, WA
  48. Grant Rettig, San Luis Obispo, CA
  49. Julie Keefer, Raleigh, NC
  50. Larry Lade, Saint Joseph, MO
  51. Andy Bankert, Melbourne Beach, FL
  52. Julia C. Pappas, Salt Flat, TX
  53. Hugh Rose, Richfield, OH
  54. Daniel Small, Chestertown, MD
  55. Alfred Raab, Brampton, ON
  56. Seabrooke Leckie, Toronto, Ontario
  57. Philip Chaon, Cleveland Heights, OH
  58. Ian Davies, Medford, MA
  59. Claude Morris, Austin, TX
  60. Carrie Deegan, Huntington, VT
  61. Brooke, Santa Barbara, CA
  62. Matthew Daw, Raleigh, NC
  63. Aaron R. Polichar, San Diego, CA
  64. Richard Garrigues, San Antonio de Belen, Heredia, Costa Rica
  65. Robert Mottershead, Philadelphia, PA
  66. Dominic Cormier, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  67. Joseph Lautenbach, Grand Rapids, MI
  68. Wlater Everotn, Nashville, TN
  69. Paul Glass, South Boston, VA
  70. Lori Fujimoto, Colorado Springs, CO
  71. Julie Cocke, Jacksonville, FL
  72. codie otte, san francisco, ca
  73. Mark Dettling, Modesto, CA
  74. Su Snyder, Wooster, OH
  75. Priscilla Lai, Markham, Ontario
  76. Michael Woodruff, Spokane, WA
  77. Richard Hibpshman, Issaquah, WA
  78. Beth Davis, Wilmington, NC
  79. Melissa Hein, North Branch, MN
  80. David Hollie, Ringgold, GA
  81. Marcelo Brongo, Barcelona, Spain
  82. Cynthia Taylor, Tucson, AZ
  83. Matt Pike, Baghdad Iraq
  84. Sean Williams, South Boston, MA
  85. Chris Warren, Portland, OR
  86. John G. Anderson, Reno, Nevada
  87. Dave Nurney, UK
  88. Joshua Gahagan, Oakham, MA
  89. Gerald Joseph Brow & Anne A Brow, Cedar, MI
  90. Bobby Walsh, Valencia, CA
  91. bob fisher, downers grove IL
  92. karen fisher, downers grove IL
  93. Andre Moncrieff, Berrien Springs, MI
  94. Kevin Reid, Chester NH
  95. Mary Austin, Grand Rapids, MI
  96. Tim Hodge, Roseland, VA
  97. Michael Hilchey, Albuquerque, NM
  98. Cathy Carroll, Dearborn, MIchigan
  99. Peter Osswald, Lindenhurst, NY
  100. Alex Lin-Moore, Houston, TX
  101. nell haberman, portland, Oregon
  102. Jonathan Lautenbach, Grand Rapids, MI
  103. David Perpinan, Omaha, NE
  104. John Brush Jr., Mattituck, NY
  105. Liis Veelma, Winnipeg, MB
  106. Jacob Saucier, Baton Rouge, LA
  107. Benjamin Berkompas, WA
  108. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  109. Steven Shultz, Apex, NC
  110. Steve Steimel, Severna Park, MD
  111. Charles Holbrook, Dataw Island SC
  112. Haynes Werner, Beaufort SC
  113. Francesc Jutglar, Cardedeu, Spain
  114. James McRacken, Charlotte, NC
  115. Diana Bradshaw, Damascus, Oregon
  116. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, Oregon
  117. Anton Mach, Yardley, PA
  118. Ryan Dudragne, Swift Current, SK
  119. Marlene Jay Cashen, Veradale, Washington
  120. Yukii Lepas, kennebunkport, maine
  121. Harry Hooper, Tallahassee, Florida
  122. Pam Baum, Tucson, AZ
  123. Prabha Acharya, College Station, TX
  124. Jim Kopitzke, Mesa AZ
  125. Adrian Azpiroz, St. Louis, MO
  126. Kurt Hennige, Bath, Ontario
  127. Mary Villarreal, Pasadena, CA
  128. Blake Mathys, Milltown, NJ
  129. Bill Hintze, Berwick, PA
  130. Lindsay Swanson, Portland, OR
  131. Linda Swanson, San Francisco, CA
  132. Yves Gauthier, Montreal, Qc, Canada
  133. Jon R. Mundall, Connell, WA
  134. Marcus Mundall, Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia
  135. Cathy Ricketts, Savannah, GA
  136. Josh Shramo, Dillon, CO
  137. Sarah J. Zastrow, Riverdale Park, MD
  138. Tom Benson, San Bernardino, CA
  139. Philip Stahl, Fordville, ND
  140. Rita Stahl, Fordville, ND
  141. Barb Duncan, Jefferson City, MO
  142. Joel Mundall, Loma Linda, CA
  143. Eddie Mundall, Yreka, CA
  144. Susan Work, Encinitas, CA
  145. Rich Swartzentruber, Salem, OR
  146. David Crisman, Tigard, OR
  147. Kathryn Holm, Tamuning, GU

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.

Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
Hermit Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
American Pipit
Fox Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Olive-backed Pipit
Palm Warbler
Song Sparrow
Wood Thrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Black-throated Sparrow
Cactus Wren
Cassin's Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
European Starling
Red-winged Blackbird
Vesper Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warbler


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