ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 62


Bird Photo

Virtually all responses were of raptors this month, so we'll start our answer with that correct assumption. Unlike, perhaps, the majority of birders, experienced hawk-watchers know that shape and flight style are the features used most often to identify raptors, usually because the distances at which many are seen preclude detailed plumage analysis. So, despite our wonderfully close and good view of the quiz bird, I will start with the bird's structure.

This month's quiz bird has fairly long wings and a long tail, all of which are accentuated by the slim build. These features should rule out most of the buteos off the bat, except for, perhaps, Swainson's and Zone-tailed hawks. Most of the falcons can also be eliminated from consideration by the shape of the wingtip, an oddly pointed and rounded wingtip. All but the largest of our Falco should show more pointed wingtips. The aberrant falcon Crested Caracara has long, rounded wings, but they're more rounded and more parallel-sided than those of our quiz bird. The relative tail length is well within the ranges of at least a couple of our accipiters, but the wings are just too long for any of those. Even if the actual wing length was within the range of any of the accipiters, the ratio of wing length to tail length on our mystery bird is quite different from that of any ABA-area accipiter. Eagles can be ruled out in total from our bird's shape. The pointed-winged kites are ruled out by wing shape and the round-winged kites are ruled out, well, by wing shape (they have much wider-based wings than does our quiz bird). All this elimination and ruling out leaves us with Osprey, Northern Harrier, Swainson's and Zone-tailed hawks, and Gyrfalcon.

Now, onto plumage features. Our bird's extensive tawny aspect of the underparts, the somewhat distinct contrast between the dark inner wing and the paler outer wing, the lack of a distinct dark wingtip and/or trailing edge is a perfect fit for only one of our remaining candidates: Northern Harrier. Osprey, of course, is always mostly white-bodied and the two buteos sport quite different underwing patterns; Gyrfalcons are never tawny. The body coloration tells us that the bird is a juvenile and the fairly broad wings and darker wingtip suggests that it is a female (males have narrower wings and more silvery wingtips). Adult female Northern Harriers are whiter-bodied with more distinct brown streaking on the chest.

Many birders that don't visit hawk watches are often thrown for a loop by high-flying migrant harriers, because many of them identify the species on the presence of a single field character, the white rump; which, of course, is not visible from below. However, experienced hawk watchers can identify these birds by their shape at incredible distances (certainly >2 miles), as the combination of long wings AND long tail is not very common among raptors. I took this picture of a juvenile female Northern Harrier flying over the Cape May, NJ, hawk watch in September 2005.


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

  1. Rich Swartzentruber, Salem, Oregon
  2. Tim Hodge, Roseland, VA
  3. Rick Poulin, Ottawa. Ontario
  4. Josh Southern, Apex, NC
  5. Brendan Fogarty, Hempstead, NY
  6. Corey Husic, Kunkletown, PA
  7. Joshua Watson, Gainesville, FL
  8. Romney Bathurst, Highlands, NC
  9. Justin Jones, Glendale, Arizona
  10. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  11. Chris Warren, Portland, OR
  12. Dean Nicholson, Cranbrook, B.C.
  13. Luke Seitz, Falmouth, ME
  14. Marcel Such, Lyons, CO
  15. Cole Wolf, Albuquerque, NM
  16. Jeff Birek, Channel Islands, CA
  17. Celestyn Brozek, Albuquerque, NM
  18. Xinyu Zhu, Vancouver, BC
  19. David Bell, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  20. Karl Erich Mayer, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
  21. Luke Downey, Friendswood, TX
  22. Alexander Godwin, Herndon, VA
  23. Glenn Werner, Beaufort, S.C.
  24. Anthony H. Bledsoe, Pittsburgh, PA
  25. Thomas Hall, Livermore, Colorado
  26. Josiah LaCelle, Camden, NY
  27. Alan Dupuis, Cambridge, NY
  28. Avery Bartels, Nelson, BC
  29. Stephen Joly, Kamloops, BC
  30. Ann McDonald, Calgary, Alberta
  31. Jerry Jourdan, Wyandotte, MI
  32. Max Wilson, Kensington, MD
  33. Thomas Hopkins, St. Petersburg, FL
  34. Matt Pike, Lacey, WA
  35. Ana Komro, West Bend, WI
  36. Larry Therrien, Belchertown, MA
  37. Andrew Fayer, Fort Washington, PA
  38. Jon Atwood, Keene, NH
  39. Steve Arlow, Rochford, Essex, England
  40. Jason Giovannone, West Columbia, SC
  41. Pete Fenner, East Peoria, IL
  42. Ben Kolstad, Boca Raton, FL
  43. David Perpinan, Omaha, Nebraska
  44. Jeremy Medina, Tucson, AZ
  45. Sam Burckhardt, Chicago, IL
  46. Matt Baumann, ABQ, NM
  47. Tamara Brenner, Elmhurst, IL
  48. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  49. Joshua Covill, Columbia Falls, MT
  50. Jim Peck, Wausau, WI
  51. tom graham, seabrook nh
  52. Wayne Meyer, Denison, TX
  53. Daroczi J. Szilard, Tg.-Mures, Romania
  54. Larry Kline, Fredericksburg, VA
  55. Marcelo Brongo, barcelona, Spain
  56. Philip Kline, Tucson, AZ
  57. Patty McKelvey, Sheffield Village, Ohio
  58. Greg Schrott, Sebring, FL
  59. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, ON
  60. Ryan Phillips, San Jose,CA
  61. Megan Rasmussen, Thunder Bay, Ontario
  62. Tom Benson, San Bernardino, CA
  63. Evan Houston, Seattle, WA
  64. Kevin Cassel, Libertyville, Illinois
  65. Urs Geiser, Woodridge, Illinois
  66. Ed Harper, Sacramento, CA
  67. Robin LaFortune, Delano, Mn
  68. Bret McCarty, Lakewood, OH
  69. Tim McFadden, Southampton, PA
  70. Rob lane, Chandler, AZ
  71. Gary W. Potter, Sanger, California
  72. Terry Anderson, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
  73. Liis Veelma, Winnipeg MB
  74. Zach Miller, Roseville, CA
  75. Laura Coble, Cannnon Falls, MN
  76. Adam Nisbett, Saint James, MO
  77. Stephanie Smith, Redford, MI
  78. Javier de Leon, Edinburg, TX
  79. Pam Baum, Tucson, AZ
  80. Andrew Ross, London, Ontario
  81. Claude Auchu, La Pocatière, Québec
  82. Carolyn Broussard, Carencro, La
  83. Mark Nieters, Sartell, MN
  84. Wes Serafin, Orland Pk,Il
  85. George F. Cresswell, Colorado Springs, CO
  86. Brad Hammond, Brooksville, Florida
  87. Chad Heins, Mankato, MN
  88. Tyler Bell, California, Maryland
  89. Graham Etherington, Norwich, UK
  90. Brad Wilkinson, Tallmadge, OH
  91. Robert Packard, Riverside, CA
  92. mike wasilco, Scottsville, NY
  93. Kurt Pohlman, Kaneohe, Hi
  94. Tim Hochstetler, millersburg OH
  95. Mary Chambers, Petaluma, CA
  96. Jason McGuire, London, ON
  97. jennifer neff, Indianapolis, Indiana
  98. Lee Barnes, Seattle, WA
  99. Phoebe Mundall, Tai-Chung, Taiwan
  100. Gary Koehn, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  101. Richard Stern, Port Williams, NS, Canada
  102. Jennie MacFarland, Tucson, AZ
  103. Barb Duncan, Jefferson City, MO
  104. Chris West, Richland Center, WI
  105. Lauren Thead, Macon, MS
  106. Hope Batcheller, Petersburgh, NY
  107. Zach Gent, Centreville, Maryland
  108. Michael Fialkovich, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  109. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  110. Lori Fujimoto, Colorado Springs, CO
  111. Beau Schaefer, round lake beach, IL
  112. Franck Sirieix, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  113. Geoffrey A. Williamson, Chicago, IL
  114. Malkolm Boothroyd, Whitehorse, Yukon
  115. Josh Taylor, Round Hill, VA
  116. Nathan Swick, Chapel Hill, NC
  117. David Yeany II, Cumberland, MD
  118. Mike Burrell, Heidelberg, Ontario
  119. Grant Gardner, Ottumwa, IA
  120. Alexandre Anctil, Québec, Québec
  121. Petro Pynnönen, Helsinki, Finland
  122. dave, Norfolk
  123. John Kuenzli, Columbus, OH
  124. Georgia Conti, Patzcuaro, Michocan, Mexico
  125. Lars Hemmendinger, Arlington, VA
  126. Benjamin Goloff, New York, New York
  127. Cinda Crosley, Pflugerville, TX
  128. Steve Steimel, Severna Park, Md
  129. Shaun Hicks, Morrisville, PA
  130. Kathy Brodhead, Vancouver, BC
  131. Richard Tiede, San Jose CA
  132. Matthew Kenne, Algona, Iowa
  133. Patricia DeMaria, Columbus, OH
  134. Su Snyder, Wooster, OH
  135. Gerrad Jones, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  136. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  137. Myles Falconer, Lakefield, ONTARIO
  138. jeff Cole, Xalapa, Veracruz
  139. Tom Lally, Chicago, IL
  140. Marlene Jay Cashen, Veradale, Washington
  141. Linda Hoffman, Springville, NY
  142. Ben Loehnen, New York, NY
  143. Elaine MacPherson, Sierra Madre CA
  144. Jim Mountjoy, Galesburg, IL
  145. Jill Kaminski, Naples, FL
  146. Jason Estep, Newark, Ohio
  147. Blake Mathys, Milltown, NJ
  148. Harry Hooper, Tallahassee, Florida
  149. Phillip Casteel, Madison, TN
  150. Susan Kritzik, Portola Valley, CA
  151. Angie Hardesty, Bowling Green, KY
  152. Judy Jobin, Maidstone, On
  153. Henry Trombley, Bristol, Vermont
  154. Jonathan Cooley, Mooresville, NC
  155. Toby Ross, Davis, CA
  156. Shiloh, Tucson AZ
  157. David C. Smith, Owings Mills, MD
  158. Patrice Manning, Aurora, CO
  159. Hannah Perrin, Lexington Park, MD
  160. Richard Jeffers, Santa Clara, CA
  161. Robert Mottershead, Philadelphia, PA
  162. Robert Doster, Albuquerque, NM
  163. Eric Kent, East Windsor, New Jersey
  164. Olaf Soltau, New Preston, CT
  165. Kathleen MacAulay, Milford, Nova Scotia
  166. Elaine Long, E. Brunswick, NJ
  167. Dave Tietjen, Huntsville, AL
  168. Ian Davies, Medford, MA
  169. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, OR
  170. Andy Pedler, Newark, CA
  171. L. Long, Chandler, AZ
  172. Bobby Walsh, Davis, CA
  173. Kelly McKinne, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  174. Kathryn Zimmerman, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  175. Phil Kenny, Vienna, VA
  176. James P. Smith, Amherst, MA
  177. Zachary Loman, Arcata, CA
  178. Tim McCabe, KS
  179. Thomas Collins, Pittsfield, MA.
  180. Ted Stiritz, Russellville, AR
  181. Brendan Collins, New Haven, Vermont
  182. Greg Gillson, Hillsboro, Oregon
  183. Benoit Dorion, Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada
  184. J Scott Ryder, Houston, Texas
  185. Kasia Matyniak, Camp Hill, PA
  186. Conley Hausle, Moyock,NC
  187. Julie Hart, Hartland, VT
  188. Owen McMurtrey, Chicago, IL
  189. Randall Royal, Beaufort, S.C.
  190. Erica Wunder, Beaufort, S.C.
  191. Haynes Werner, Beaufort, S.C.
  192. Mary Walsh, Valencia, CA
  193. Lois Lindsay, Frankford WV
  194. Eddie Mundall, Yreka, CA

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.

Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Black-capped Chickadee
Prairie Falcon
Roadside Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk


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