ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 50


Bird Photo

In far too many cases, this is the view that we have a bird. While most would agree that looking at the undertail coverts isn't as pleasing as look at a bird's head—or an entire bird—a bird's back end can be very helpful in identifying it.

Structure is very important. Look at how far the tail projects past the undertail coverts. Is the tail relatively short/long? Do the undertail coverts appear wide/narrow/short? Can you see how far the primaries extend past something else (base of tail, the longest undertail covert etc.)? Look at the pattern of the tail—generally when viewed from below, this means looking at the pattern of the outer two tail feathers, since the tail is folded. Some species are very distinctive—Magnolia looks like the tip of its tail has been dipped in black paint. But beware that tail patterns are sometimes different for males, females, adults, juveniles and immatures. And don't ignore the undertail coverts! Sometimes they have patterns that are just as useful.

Let's get started. I suspect the first thing you notice, is that this bird has a lot of yellow on the plumage and also some white. That's helpful. And you also notice that the bird is sitting in a tree or some other such form of vegetation. And the bird has relatively short legs (we're not talking about a heron or shorebird etc.).

Now onto the tail. We have an odd angle, so judging the shape of the tail is hard. It doesn't seem very long, but this could be misleading. But, we can see that the tail has a bit of a dark tip. Looking carefully, we see that the dark, from the corners, curves around so that there is dark pigment nearly (but not completely) across the tip of the tail feathers. This and the yellow coloration should bring us to the Dendroica warblers. Yes, some other warblers have this pattern, but it makes sense to start with the largest group. (And species like Blue-winged, Golden-winged warblers and the parulas don't have belly patterns that look like this).

Now let's turn to the undertail coverts. They are deep yellow in the center, with the edges and tip white. This exact pattern is only shown by Cape May Warblers. Many other species (Palm, Prairie, Yellow etc.) have yellow undertail coverts, but the pattern is more uniform. The plumage coloration also fits—white vent and yellow flanks that are consistent with having streaks.

This male Cape May Warbler was photographed at Long Key State Park in the Florida Keys in April 2007.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the May Bird Photo Quiz—Cape May Warbler:

  1. Ashley Felts, Boonville, NC
  2. Steve Arlow, Rochford, Essex, UK
  3. Luke Seitz, Falmouth, Maine
  4. James Colonna, Hopewell Junction, New York
  5. Phil Chaon, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
  6. Mikey Lutmerding, Frostburg, Maryland
  7. Aaron Hulsey, Smiths Grove, Ky
  8. Seabrooke Leckie, Toronto, Ontario
  9. Nico Sarbanes, Baltimore, MD
  10. Jim Kopitzke, Mesa AZ
  11. Alex Lin-Moore, Houston, TX
  12. Michael Lester, Haworth, NJ
  13. Chris West, Richland Center, WI
  14. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  15. Megan Rasmussen, Thunder Bay, Ontario
  16. Josh Southern, Apex, NC
  17. Andy Bankert, Melbourne Beach, FL
  18. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  19. Vicki Sandage, ashland, KY
  20. Su Snyder, Wooster, OH
  21. Brooke Miller, Los Altos, CA
  22. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  23. Liis Veelma, Winnipeg MB
  24. Vicki Morgan, Chapel Hill, NC
  25. Mary Villarreal, Pasadena, CA
  26. Dave Worthington, Toronto, Ontario
  27. André Pelletier, La Prairie, Quebec, Canada
  28. Sophie Cauchon, La Prairie, Quebec, Canada
  29. Marc Ribaudo, Woodbridge, VA
  30. Tim Hochstetler, Millersburg, Ohio
  31. Jonathan Comeau, Williston, VT
  32. Henry Wilton, Rutland, VT
  33. Tim Hodge, Roseland, VA
  34. Anton Mach, Yardley, PA
  35. Claude Morris, Austin, TX
  36. Mark Dettling, Modesto, CA
  37. Harry Hooper, Tallahassee, Florida
  38. John Bissell, Grimes, IA
  39. Adam Nisbett, St. James, MO
  40. Joshua Covill, Columbia Falls, MT
  41. Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA
  42. Ruben Deschamps, Monterrey, Mexico
  43. Barb Duncan, Jefferson City, MO
  44. Kathy Hedegard, Estevan, SK
  45. George Cresswell, Colorado Springs, CO
  46. nell haberman, portland, Oregon
  47. Jim Pawlicki, Williamsville, NY
  48. Brian McAllister, Saranac Lake, NY
  49. Neil Gilbert, beverly hills, mi
  50. Nila Petty, St. Louis, MO
  51. Anthony Bledsoe, Pittsburgh, PA
  52. Dave Nurney, UK
  53. Adrian Azpiroz, St. Louis, MO
  54. Ryan Dudragne, Swift Current, SK
  55. Micah Malueg, Hooper, Colorado
  56. Irene Bertoni, Brooklyn, New York
  57. Urs Geiser, Woodridge, Illinois
  58. Nicholas Pederson, Albuquerque, NM
  59. Michael Miller, Chicago, Illinois
  60. Marcelo Brongo, Barcelona, Spain
  61. Sarah J. Zastrow, Riverdale Park, MD
  62. Celestyn Brozek, Albuquerque, NM
  63. Ian Davies, Medford, MA
  64. Gay McDougall, Beaconsfield, Quebec
  65. John Brush Jr., Mattituck, NY
  66. Josh Obrecht, Winona, MN
  67. Kevin Simmons, Watkinsville, GA
  68. Ethan Kistler, Newton Falls, Ohio
  69. Josh Shramo, Dillon, CO.
  70. Ed Harper, Sacramento, CA 95841
  71. Philip Kline, Tucson, AZ
  72. Julie Cocke, Jacksonville, FL
  73. Alexander Watson, Austin, MN
  74. Cinda Crosley, Pflugerville, TX
  75. Christian Klein, Whitehorse, Yukon
  76. Nicholas Block, Chicago, IL
  77. Malkolm Boothroyd, Whitehorse, Yukon
  78. Alan Meijer, Pantego, NC
  79. Janine Lechleitner, Fort Lupton, Colorado
  80. Thomas Snetsinger, Brownsville, OR
  81. Greg Gillson, Hillsboro, Oregon
  82. David Hollie, Ringgold, GA
  83. Marlene Jay Cashen, Veradale, Washington
  84. Amy Taracido, Coal Center, PA
  85. John Van Kirk, Huntington, West Virginia
  86. Prabha Acharya, College Station, TX
  87. Randy Mehoves, Saint Cloud, MN
  88. Lee Barnes, Seattle, WA
  89. Dan Collins, Evansville, IN
  90. Cathy Carroll, Dearborn, Michigan
  91. Lisa Snowberg, Austin, TX
  92. Phoebe Mundall, Tai Chung , TAIWAN
  93. Erik Mundall, Tai Chung , TAIWAN
  94. John Garrett, Pasadena, CA
  95. Amy Drake, Richville, MN
  96. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  97. Jim Mountjoy, Galesburg IL
  98. Brad Pursell, Lebanon, OH
  99. Seth Cutright, West Bend, Wisconsin
  100. Peter Osswald, Lindenhurst, N.Y.
  101. Lowell Young, Mariposa
  102. Sandra Lautrupb, Effingham, Illinois
  103. Bobby Walsh, Valencia, CA
  104. Eric Shaw, Tallahassee, FL
  105. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, Oregon
  106. Julia Marko Dunn, Newmarket, Ontario
  107. Francesc Jutglar, Cardedeu, Spain
  108. Jeremy Faucher, Enfield CT
  109. Bill Hintze, Berwick, PA
  110. Kasia Matyniak, Berwick, PA
  111. E.J. Raynor, Fairfield, CT
  112. Steve McNamee, Sylvania, OH
  113. Stephen Seiffert, Lansdowne, Ontario, Canada
  114. David Perpinan, Omaha, NE
  115. codie otte, san francisco, ca
  116. Robert Doster, Albuquerque, NM
  117. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, OR
  118. Yves Gauthier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  119. David Crisman, Tigard, OR
  120. Anup Katake, College Station, TX
  121. Chris Warren, Portland, OR
  122. Myles Falconer, Lakefield, ON
  123. Ben Walters, Port Hope, ON
  124. Lindsay Swanson, Portland, OR
  125. Linda Swanson, San Francisco, CA
  126. Chau Young, Salem, OR
  127. Rich Swartzentruber, Salem, 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.

Cape May Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Palm Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Blue-winged Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Goldfinch
Kirtland's Warbler
Lesser Goldfinch
Canada Warbler
Western Meadowlark
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Meadowlark
Prothonotary Warbler
Yellow Grosbeak
Bachman's Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat


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