ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 66


Bird Photo

We certainly do not have much to go on with this month's quiz bird and solving it requires some knowledge of behavior not readily extracted from the typical field guides. Our bird is obviously diving and that fact combined with the black-and-white plumage should leave us a few groups to consider: diving ducks, grebes, and alcids. The plumage aspects visible (dark wingtips, a dark gray tail, and a dark rump that sports white sides) are, actually, enough to identify our bird. However, the primary reason that I took this photo and then used it in the quiz is to talk (write) about diving style.

Though very little of our bird's wings are visible, the position of the wingtips indicate that the wings are, at least, partly open at the beginning of the bird's dive. This behavior rules out a lot of species that dive for a living, as many species dive with their wings closed and do not use them to propel themselves underwater. Those species that use their wings underwater include a few diving ducks (White-winged and Surf scoters, eiders, and Long-tailed and Harlequin ducks) and alcids; loons, grebes, and other diving ducks are eliminated from consideration by this behavior. This simple behavior, thus, cuts the number of our black-and-white-diving-bird options roughly in half.

Our bird's tail is the next target of scrutiny, as we should know that alcids sport very short tails and that, despite our bird's apparently quite short tail, its length is still more impressive than that of any alcid tail. Thus, we find ourselves searching among the few diving ducks and we need only ascertain which of these options exhibits our bird's fairly distinctive rump pattern. Perusing the standard field guides, we can quickly see that scoter options are out, as are eider options, even those in adult male plumage. Harlequin Ducks, too, don't sport white rump sides, leaving Long-tailed Duck as the only possible answer. I took this picture of a female Long-tailed Duck in Lewes, Kent Co., DE, on 7 April 2008.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the September Bird Photo Quiz—Long-tailed Duck:

  1. Stephen Joly, Kamloops, BC
  2. Jim Peck, Wausau, WI
  3. Brendan Fogarty, Hempstead, NY
  4. Karl Erich Mayer, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
  5. Josh Covill, Columbia Falls, MT
  6. Rob Lane, Chandler, AZ
  7. Daroczi J. Szilard, Tg.-Mures, Romania
  8. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  9. Marcelo Brongo, Barcelona, Spain
  10. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  11. Richard Garrigues, San Antonio de Belen, Heredia, Costa Rica
  12. Alan Dupuis, Cambridge, NY
  13. John Puschock, Seattle, WA
  14. Ryan Phillips, Campbell, CA
  15. Travis Cooper, San Diego, CA
  16. Jim Mountjoy, Galesburg IL
  17. Barb Duncan, Jefferson City, MO
  18. Josh Southern, Raleigh, NC
  19. Chris Warren, Portland, OR
  20. Matt Pike, Lacey, WA
  21. Dean Nicholson, Cranbrook, B.C.
  22. David Tyrer, Ottawa, Ontario. Canada
  23. mike wasilco, Scottsville, NY
  24. Alex Hale, NY, NY
  25. Mike Fialkovich, Pittsburgh, PA
  26. Nathan Swick, Chapel Hill, NC
  27. Claude Auchu, La Pocatière, Québec
  28. Jacob Drucker, New York, NY
  29. Graham Etherington, Norwich, UK
  30. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, ON
  31. Philip Kline, Tucson, AZ
  32. gerald j brow, Cedar Michigan
  33. Henry Trombley, Bristol, VT
  34. Dave Tietjen, Huntsville, AL
  35. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  36. Thomas Hall, Livermore, Colorado
  37. Joseph Lautenbach, Grand Rapids, MI
  38. Willis Brubaker, Wooster Ohio
  39. James McRacken, Charlotte, NC
  40. Liis Veelma, Winnipeg MB
  41. Jonathan Rowley, Whittier, Ca
  42. Manel Mondejar, Portland,OR
  43. tim hochstetler, millersburg oh
  44. Kelly McKinne, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  45. Kathryn Zimmerman, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  46. Robert Doster, Albuquerque, NM
  47. Georgia Conti, Patzcuaro, Mexico
  48. Lars Hemmendinger, Arlington, VA
  49. Ian Davies, Medford, MA
  50. Olaf Soltau, New Preston, CT
  51. Avery Bartels, Nelson, BC
  52. Myles Falconer, Lakefield, ON Canada
  53. Malkolm Boothroyd, Whitehorse, Yukon
  54. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, Oregon
  55. John Kuenzli, Columbus, OH
  56. Mike Boyd, Vancouver, BC
  57. Bobby Walsh, Davis, CA
  58. Julie Hart, Hartland, VT
  59. Joel Mundall, Loma Linda, CA
  60. Matthew Williams, Midvale, UT

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.

Long-tailed Duck
Canada Goose
Common Eider
Northern Gannet
Common Goldeneye
Common Moorhen
Red-necked Phalarope
American Coot
Black-capped Petrel
Blue-footed Booby
Common Merganser
Green-winged Teal
Masked Booby
American Golden-Plover
American Oystercatcher
American Wigeon
Audubon's Shearwater
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel
Brown Pelican
Eared Grebe
Great Cormorant
Hooded Merganser
King Eider
Leach's Storm-Petrel
Least Auklet
Manx Shearwater
Marbled Murrelet
Ruddy Duck
White-faced Storm-Petrel
Wilson's Storm-Petrel


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