ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 74


Bird Photo
[+] Click Image for Larger Version

Some may have wondered where the bird was in May's quiz photo, though most respondents not only found the bird, but identified it correctly. In the right half of the picture, there is a blob protruding from the water that sports a combination of colors: blackish, gray-brown, perhaps bluish-gray, and whitish. That is the bird. Or, at least, the part of the bird visible in the picture. This bird might have been almost any waterbird that can submerge in water – on its way up or down, but perhaps there's another reason that we can see only a small fraction of the beast. But, let's see what we can do with what we have.

We'll start with the setting – apparently a pond with edge emergent and edge vegetation. This habitat certainly suggests against any of the true seabirds. Moving to the bird, itself, we can see a large dark circular bit that seems to be an eye. The darkness of it actually enables us to eliminate all sorts of diving birds from consideration, such as most cormorants, many ducks, the loons, and most grebes – there are a lot of red, yellow, and blue eyes amongst diving birds for some reason. Granted, many immatures of some of these groups sport dark eyes, but eye color can still help us out quite a bit. Additionally, our quiz bird seems to have at least a partial eye ring of some near-white color.

The shape of the head and the position of the two eyes suggest that the bird is facing us, thus the varicolored protuberance between and in front of the eyes must be the bill. Interestingly, the bill seems to be tri-colored with a pale base, a blackish vertical bar, and a pale tip that is a bit darker than the base. Well, vertical black bars on bills are quite rare on ABA-area birds and I think that everyone would be comfortable at ruling out Ring-billed Gull – particularly as when that species has a ring on the bill, it also has yellow eyes. Having ruled out various coots previously by eye color and by our bird's seemingly partial eye ring, we're left with only one real possibility: Pied-billed Grebe.

Ah, now we can understand my comment in the first paragraph. While most diving birds control their depth in the water quite actively – using wings and/or feet – the Pied-billed Grebes are masters of buoyancy, being able to alter their relative density almost passively. By pressing air out of their feathers and by moving air in or out of internal air sacs, they have very fine control of their buoyancy and can hold as much or as little of their body (up to a point at the upper end) above the surface as they wish. For a species that often finds itself on small bodies of water – such as the one in the picture – being able to essentially hide while still keeping an eye out for danger enables the specie to utilize water bodies that many other diving birds cannot.

I took this picture of an alternate-plumaged Pied-billed Grebe at Villas W.M.A., Cape May Co., NJ, on 5 April 2009.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the May Bird Photo Quiz—Pied-billed Grebe:

  1. Ryan Edmondson, Fishers
  2. David Bell, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  3. Malkolm Boothroyd, Whitehorse, Yukon
  4. Chris West, Richland Center, WI
  5. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  6. Claude Auchu, La Pocatière, Québec
  7. Valerie J. Harris, Cranbrook, BC, Canada
  8. Geoff Parks, Gainesville, FL
  9. Nathan Swick, Chapel Hill, NC
  10. Andrew Fayer, Fort Washington, PA
  11. Pierre Goulet, St. John's, NL
  12. Robert Packard, Riverside, CA
  13. Karl Erich Mayer, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
  14. Sandra Lautrup, Effingham, Il
  15. Dean Nicholson, Cranbrook, B.C.
  16. Lauren Bryde, East Northport, NY
  17. Ardmia Holt, Grapevine,Texas
  18. John Shamgochian, East Providence RI
  19. Jimmy Warren, Schwenksville, PA
  20. Thomas Hall, Livermore, CO
  21. Ted Stiritz, Russellville, AR
  22. Kimberly Sucy, NY
  23. Dan Sawatzky, Regina, SK
  24. Corey Husic, Kunkletown, PA
  25. Sam Pratt, Inman, SC
  26. Brendan Fogarty, Hempstead, NY
  27. Ben Coulter, Etna, PA
  28. George F. Cresswell, Colorado Springs
  29. Rich Swartzentruber, Salem. Oregon
  30. Pam Baum, Tucson, AZ
  31. Ryan Phillips, Campbell, CA
  32. Eric Antonio Martinez, Oaxaca, Mexico
  33. Ana Komro, West Bend, WI
  34. Joshua Christian, Hutchinson, MN
  35. Dave Tietjen, Huntsville, AL
  36. Kevin M. Hill, Shoreline, WA
  37. Brian E. Small, Los Angeles, CA
  38. Chris Warren, San Marcos, TX
  39. Paul Trunk, Clearwater, Fl.
  40. Michael Lester, Haworth, NJ
  41. Tristan Weinbrenner, McPherson, KS
  42. Steve Arlow, Rochford, Essex, England
  43. Wil Domke, Miami, FL
  44. Chuck Carlson, Ft. Peck MT
  45. Jim Mountjoy, Galesburg, IL
  46. Daryll Myhr, Kelowna,BC,CA
  47. David Tyrer, Ottawa, Ontario. Canada
  48. Laure Wilson Neish, Penticton, BC Canada
  49. Barb Duncan, Jefferson City, MO 65109
  50. Mark Dettling, Bolinas, CA
  51. Robert Mottershead, PA
  52. Felipe Guerrero, Arlington, Virginia
  53. Graham Etherington, Norwich, England
  54. Josh Edelman, Nashville, Tennessee
  55. Greg Schrott, Sebring, FL
  56. Matthew Rymkiewicz, New York, NY
  57. Liston Rice, Houston, TX
  58. David Rankin, Avon Park, NY
  59. Adam Betuel, Kissimmee, FL
  60. Richard Tiede, San Jose CA
  61. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  62. James P. Smith, Amherst, MA
  63. Carrie Braden, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
  64. Jon Atwood, Keene, NH
  65. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  66. tom graham, seabrook nh
  67. Ben Kolstad, Boca Raton, FL
  68. Nathan Romney, Provo, UT
  69. Amy Romney, Provo, UT
  70. Lev Frid, Maple, Ontario
  71. Matt Mckim-Louder, Champaign, IL
  72. Colin R Gjervold, Wesley Chapel, FL
  73. Sam Burckhardt, Chicago, IL
  74. Thomas Snetsinger, Brownsville, OR
  75. Megan Rasmussen, Sudbury, Ontario
  76. Georgia Conti, Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico
  77. Tom Benson, San Bernardino, CA
  78. Avery Bartels, Nelson, BC, Canada
  79. Beverly Robertson, Hewitt, NJ
  80. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  81. Claude Morris, Austin, TX
  82. beau schaefer, round lake beach, IL
  83. Adam Sell, Deerfield, IL
  84. Su Snyder, Wooster, OH
  85. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, ON
  86. John Kuenzli, Columbus, OH
  87. Jacob Drucker, New York, NY
  88. dominik, San Francisco, CA
  89. Greg Swick, Ozark, MO
  90. Llaina Rosemary Hemperly, Palmyra, Pennsylvania
  91. Blake Mathys, Milltown, NJ
  92. John Brett, Toronto, ON
  93. Nils Steika, Blacksburg, VA
  94. Jonah Joffe, Wynnewood, PA
  95. Valerie Wolfe, Portland, OR
  96. Maria Benjamin, Ottawa, Ontario
  97. lisa moore, seattle, wa
  98. Rob Young, Alexandria, VA
  99. Charles Rossa, Manassas, Va
  100. Jonathan Cooley, Mooresville, NC
  101. William Jones, Bangkok
  102. Jonathan Comeau, Williston, VT
  103. Philip Kline, Tucson, AZ
  104. Corey Plank, Portland, OR
  105. Josh Shramo, Dillon, CO.
  106. Nicholas Newberry, Oakton,VA
  107. Urs Geiser, Woodridge, Illinois
  108. ken Young, Buhl, Idaho
  109. Austin Young, Buhl, Idaho
  110. Nathaniel Hernandez, Great Meadows, New Jersey
  111. Kara Lewantowicz, Colorado Springs, CO
  112. Elaine Long, East Brunswick, NJ
  113. Nicole Perretta, San Diego, CA
  114. Jonathan Frodge, Cincinnati, OH
  115. Diane Powell, Kennesaw, GA
  116. Harry Hooper, Tallahassee, Florida
  117. Jennie MacFarland, Tucson, AZ
  118. Mike Fialkovich, Pittsburgh, PA
  119. William Hutcheson, Concord, MA
  120. Neil Travis, Livingston, Montana
  121. Thomas Hopkins, St. Petersburg, FL
  122. Benoit Dorion, Laval, Quebec, Canada
  123. Raymond VanBuskirk, Albuquerque, NM
  124. Jonathan Lautenbach, Grand Rapids, MI
  125. Eamon Corbett, Pelham, New York
  126. Victor Ayala, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
  127. Tim McFadden, Southampton, PA
  128. Tim, Guelph, Ontario
  129. Wayne Meyer, Denison, TX
  130. Richard Garrigues, San Antonio de Belen
  131. Allan K. Lake, Commerce Twp. Michigan
  132. Donald Gilbert, Greenville, OH
  133. Rick Poulin, Ottawa, Ontario
  134. Henry Trombley, Bristol, VT
  135. Patty McKelvey, Sheffield Village, Ohio
  136. Harmony Coriddi, Marion, New York
  137. Tom Satterfield, Chapmanville, wv
  138. Noah Gaines, Santa Barbara, CA
  139. Mary Fink, Portland, Maine
  140. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, Oregon
  141. Orrin Harvey, Tucson, AZ
  142. Linda Hoffman, Springville, NY
  143. Wes Serafin, orland park il
  144. Grant Rettig, Attica, OH
  145. Brad Wilkinson, Tallmadge, OH
  146. Joel Mundall, Loma Linda, CA
  147. Shaun Hicks, Morrisville, Pennsylvania
  148. Lowell Young, Mariposa, CA
  149. Grant McCreary, Cumming, GA
  150. Danny Boatman, Woodbury, MN
  151. Mitch Hurt, Livingston, MT
  152. Elaine MacPherson, Sierra Madre, CA
  153. Roger Sheets, Riverview, FL
  154. Paul Fusco, Minneapolis, MN
  155. Brandon Percival, Pueblo West, CO
  156. Eric Kent, East Windsor, New Jersey
  157. Steve Hofstetter, Gainesville, FL
  158. Steve McAllister, Newmarket, Ontario
  159. Olaf Soltau, New Preston, CT
  160. Vince Cavalieri, Stillwater, OK
  161. Mike Burrell, Heidelberg, Ontario
  162. John Churchill, Frostburg, MD
  163. robert wilson, salt lake city, UT
  164. Lois Goldfrank, Santa Cruz, CA
  165. Scott Carpenter, Portland, Oregon
  166. Kevin Easley, Alajuela, Costa Rica
  167. Bill Sheehan, Woodland, maine
  168. Christine Maack, anchorage, ak
  169. David Donsker, North Hampton, NH
  170. John Sterling, Woodland, CA
  171. Cinda Crosley, Pflugerville, TX
  172. Thomas Sanders, Charlotte, NC
  173. Jean Myers, Gilroy, CA
  174. Ray Cooke, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  175. Wayne K. Forsythe, Hendersonville, North Carolina
  176. Karen Viste-Sparkman, Des Moines, IA
  177. Cindy Zylkuski Norris, Haverhill, MA
  178. Susan Kritzik, Portola Valley, CA
  179. bj worth, Whitefish, MT
  180. Margaret Yorke, Brandon, Manitoba Canada
  181. Jennifer Lalonde, Edmonton, Alberta
  182. Kristen Murtaugh, Delray Beach, Florida
  183. John F. Wells Jr., Riverside, CT
  184. Cynthia Barstad, Tucson, AZ
  185. Jeremy Gatten, Brentwood Bay, British Columbia
  186. Dick Cabe, Huntington Beach, CA
  187. Linda Fink, Grand Ronde, OR
  188. James Witten, corpus christi, texas
  189. Sharon Reilly, Baraboo, WI
  190. John Murphy, Alligator Pt, FL
  191. Roy Peterson, Lake Forest, Illinois
  192. Karsten E. Hartel, Arllington, MA
  193. David Clark, Norfolk, VA
  194. George Vogel, Midland, MI
  195. Steve Biasetti, Manorville, NY
  196. Brian Bielfelt, Greenwich, CT
  197. L. Long, Chandler, AZ
  198. Steve Cardiff, St. Gabriel, LA
  199. Abigail Parker, Philadelphia, PA
  200. John Poole, Berkeley, California
  201. Bob Miller, Brawley, CA
  202. Barbara Brookman, Erwinna, PA
  203. Galen Frank-Bishop, Plainfield, MA
  204. Robert Randall, Jacksonville, IL
  205. Brian Scott, Langley British Columbia
  206. John Branchflower, Beaumont, CA
  207. Michael Armer, Mountain View, CA
  208. William L. Schipper, Moorestown
  209. Joshua Covill, Columbia Falls, MT
  210. Annie Meyer, Tacoma, WA
  211. Susan Scharenberg, Columbus OH
  212. Jean-Sébastien Guénette, Montreal, QC
  213. Charles W. Austin, Garden Grove, CA
  214. Josh Southern, Raleigh, NC
  215. Vjera Thompson, Eugene, OR
  216. Doug Herr, Orangevale CA
  217. Robert Doster, Albuquerque, NM
  218. François Gouin, Ottawa, ON
  219. Larry Therrien, Belchertown, MA
  220. Michele Swartout, Red Bluff,CA
  221. Gerrad Jones, Philadelphia, PA
  222. Ian Davies, Arlington, VA
  223. Kasia Matyniak, New Cumberland, PA
  224. Bill Hintze, New Cumberland, PA
  225. andrew, bellaire, TX
  226. Brandt Schurenberg, Cincinnati OH
  227. Andrew Thornton, St. Augustine, FL
  228. Rick Houlk, Ocoee, TN
  229. Wayne Munns, Jamestown, RI
  230. keith holland, Oregon City, Oregon
  231. Lindsay Swanson, Portland, OR
  232. Linda Swanson, San Francisco, CA
  233. Shane DuBay, Makawao, HI
  234. Dave Parent, Freeland, WA
  235. Kathy Brodhead, Glide, OR
  236. David Scott, Grayslake, IL
  237. Denise Hamilton, Napa, CA
  238. Ira Sanders, Golden, CO
  239. jason templin, arlington, virginia
  240. Dietrich Roloff, Ann Arbor, MI
  241. Jethro Runco, Newton, KS
  242. Jesse Schabert, Eagan, Mn
  243. Jim Kopitzke, Mesa AZ
  244. Ron Pozzi, Granite Bay, CA
  245. Justyn Stahl, San Clemente Island, CA
  246. Andy Dettling, Canton, MI
  247. Jessica Bridges, Sanford, NC
  248. Paul Ode, Fort Collins, CO
  249. Fr. Tom Pincelli, Harlingen,TX.
  250. Brian Hobbs, Strathroy, ON
  251. Celestyn Brozek, Albuquerque, NM
  252. Jessica Gorzo, Okatie, SC
  253. Zachary Loman, Arcata, CA
  254. Allison Mohoric, Medina, Ohio
  255. Yousif Attia, Calgary, AB
  256. Kenneth Trease, Spokane, Wa
  257. Carolyn Broussard, Carencro, La
  258. Cecile DeRouin, Carlisle, MA
  259. Myles Falconer, Lakefield, ON
  260. Cameron Carver, Arlington, Tx
  261. Tim Hodge, Roseland, VA
  262. Phil Wegener, bellingham, wa
  263. Johanna Shipley, Kampsville, IL
  264. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, Oregon
  265. Haynes Werner, beaufort, s.c.
  266. glenn werner, beaufort, s.c.
  267. randy royal, beaufort, s.c.
  268. Keith Condon, Diamond Bar, CA
  269. Sarah J. Zastrow, Riverdale, MD
  270. Julie Hart, Hartland, VT
  271. Barb Robertson, Ottawa, Ont., Canada
  272. Susan Work, Encinitas, CA
  273. 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.

Pied-billed Grebe
American Coot
Common Moorhen
Wood Duck
American Avocet
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Blue-winged Teal
Common Loon
Green-winged Teal
Harlequin Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Spotted Redshank


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