ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 77


Bird Photo

An apparent brown waterbird in flight -- where do we start? Well, with ducks, wing pattern is often a good place to start, as that can usually quickly separate diving ducks from dabbling ducks. However, interpreting whether we're looking at the underside or topside of the wings seems a bit problematic. However, we are looking virtually straight up the bird's left wing with the wingtip pointing right at us and giving us a marginal view of the underside. The right wing is pointing away from us and we've got a pretty good view of the top side. Though it's difficult to be sure of the shape of that wingtip, it looks suspiciously rounded and there seems to be no pattern on the wing, other than the vague white trailing edge on the secondaries -- not your typical duck wing pattern and shape. Focusing on the bird's bill, which is short, thick, and yellow, we can readily determine that our bird is not a duck.

The wing shape also rules out any brown tubenose, as that group is pretty well defined by long, narrow, and pointed wings. The key in the wholesale elimination of the Pelecaniformes (cormorants, pelicans, tropicbirds, boobies, etc) lies in the feet. That order is characterized by being totipalmate, that is all four toes are connected with webbing, unlike, I believe, all other ABA-area orders of birds. Since we can easily see our quiz bird's hind toe on the left foot, it's certainly not totipalmate. While ogling the feet, we might notice that the legs seem placed awfully far back on the body, suggesting a loon or grebe. Once there, things get considerably easier, as there are no loons that are entirely brown-plumaged, and only two ABA-area grebes sport such: Pied-billed and Least, though the latter tends more toward gray than the warmish brown of the quiz bird. As we're already leaning toward Pied-billed on plumage coloration, confirm that lean by noting that the bill is not black or bicolored black and gray and it's certainly not thin.

Most birders may pass their entire careers seeing only one or two Pied-billed Grebes in flight making it less likely that they will recognize the beast when doing such -- it's quite a strange-looking flight; so much so, that one might wonder how they can possibly migrate like that! Though I've been fairly lucky in this regard (having actually photographed the phenomenon twice!), I still tend to wonder if they've developed transporter technology. I took the picture of this Pied-billed Grebe at Lily Lake, Cape May Point, Cape May Co., NJ, 21 November 2008.


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

  1. Thomas Hall, Livermore, CO
  2. Eric Antonio Martinez, Oaxaca, Mexico
  3. Karl Erich Mayer, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
  4. Sam Burckhardt, Chicago, IL
  5. David Bell, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  6. Joel Such, Lyons, CO
  7. Laure Wilson Neish, Penticton, BC Canada
  8. Max Wilson, Kensington, MD
  9. John Shamgochian, East Providence, RI
  10. William von Herff, ottawa, Ontario
  11. Dan Kopp, Sacramento, CA
  12. George Cresswell, Colorado Springs, CO
  13. Benoit Dorion, Laval, Quebec, Canada
  14. Kevin M Hill, Shoreline, WA
  15. Rick Poulin, Ottawa, Ontario
  16. Nathaniel Hernandez, Great Meadows, New Jersey
  17. mitchell jarrett, athens, ga
  18. Jonah Joffe, Wynnewood, PA
  19. Nathan Swick, Chapel Hill, NC
  20. Tom Benson, San Bernardino, CA
  21. robert wilson, Salt Lake City, UT
  22. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  23. Linda Fink, Grand Ronde, OR
  24. Matthew Daw, Raleigh, NC
  25. Geoffrey A. Williamson, Chicago, IL
  26. Richard Garrigues, San Antonio de Belén, Costa Rica
  27. Jason McGuire, London, ON
  28. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  29. Wes Serafin, Orland Pk,Il 60462
  30. Rob Young, Alexandria,VA
  31. Wil Domke, Miami, FL
  32. Jimmy Warren, Schwenksville, PA
  33. Colin Gjervold, Tampa, FL
  34. Steve Arlow, Rochford, Essex, England
  35. Adam Betuel, Kissimmee, FL
  36. Sue Wetmore, Brandon, VT
  37. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, ON
  38. Thomas Snetsinger, Brownsville, OR
  39. Avery Bartels, Nelson, BC, Canada
  40. Ben Coulter, Etna, PA
  41. Chris Warren, San Marcos, TX
  42. John Branchflower, Beaumont, CA
  43. Will Sweet, Sharon, MA
  44. Ross Schaefer, Atascadero, CA
  45. Claude Morris, Austin, TX
  46. Neil Travis, Livingston, MT
  47. Robert Packard, Riverside, CA
  48. Daryll Myhr, Kelowna,BC,Canada
  49. Larisa Gokool, Brockton, MA
  50. lupe, las vegas.Nevada
  51. Andre Moncrieff, Berrien Springs, MI
  52. Josh Southern, Raleigh, NC
  53. Stijn Cooleman, Jabbeke, Belgium
  54. Greg Swick, Ozark, Missouri
  55. Jeremy Medina, Tucson, AZ
  56. Steve Springer, Fairbanks, AK
  57. Barb Duncan, Jefferson City, MO
  58. Mike Fialkovich, Pittsburgh, PA
  59. Jessica Gorzo, West Friendship, MD
  60. logan kahle, san francisco, CA
  61. Nicholas Newberry, Oakton, Virginia
  62. Jim Mountjoy, Galesburg, IL
  63. Darcy Love, Roxbury, WI
  64. Jacob Drucker, New York, NY
  65. Marcel Such, Lyons, CO
  66. Ray Cooke, Charlottetown PEI
  67. Mark Dettling, Bolinas, CA
  68. Rob Fowler, Arcata, CA
  69. Spencer Hardy, Norwich, VT
  70. Daroczi J. Szilard, Tg.-Mures, Romania
  71. Wayne Meyer, Denison, TX
  72. lisa moore, seattle, wa
  73. Jonathan Frodge, Cincinnati, OH
  74. Michael S. Levy, Centereach, N.Y.
  75. Philip Kline, Tucson, AZ
  76. Lance Bastian, Greenville, SC
  77. chris sheridan, nashua nh
  78. gerald j brow, cedar,michigan
  79. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  80. Jeff Harding, Lebanon, Oregon
  81. Vince Cavalieri, Stillwater, Oklahoma
  82. JASMITH, Canada
  83. Megan Maurer, Altoona, PA
  84. Barbara Scoles, Tigard, OR
  85. Greg Schrott, Sebring, FL
  86. Ryan Edmondson, Fishers
  87. Harmony Coriddi, Marion, New York
  88. Ben Di Labio, Carp, Ontario
  89. Barb Robertson, Ottawa, Ont., Canada
  90. Richard Tiede, San Jose CA
  91. Corey Husic, Kunkletown, PA
  92. Nicole Perretta, san Diego, CA
  93. Liis Veelma, Winnipeg MB
  94. Naomi Ingebretson, Glyndon,MN
  95. Joshua LaCelle, Camden, NY
  96. Graham Etherington, Norwich, England
  97. Dean Nicholson, Cranbrook, B.C.
  98. Valerie J. Harris, Cranbrook, B.C.
  99. Lucas Waskosky, Plymouth, MN
  100. Pullen Watkins, Madison, MS
  101. Aaron Boone, Plainfield, Illinois
  102. Gyekeny Gertrud, Targu Mures, Romania
  103. Lauren Bryde, East Northport, NY
  104. Grant McCreary, Cumming, GA
  105. Eric Pineiro, Titusville, FL
  106. John Gluth, Brentwood, NY
  107. Sarah T, Ann Arbor, MI
  108. Michael Miller, Chicago, Illinois
  109. John Kuenzli, Columbus, OH
  110. Jason Pietrzak, Moab, UT
  111. Rowan Heglie, Ashland, OR
  112. William L. Schipper, Moorestown, NJ
  113. Ben Jesup, Alexandria, VA
  114. Jon Smith, Fletcher, N.C.
  115. Su Snyder, Wooster, OH
  116. Janneke Kimstra, Bilthoven The Netherlands
  117. Kenneth Rieker, Lansdale, PA
  118. Sarah Wood, Cincinnati, Oh
  119. Rich Stanton, Cobleskill, NY
  120. kathy brodhead, Glide, OR
  121. Dave Tietjen, Huntsville, AL
  122. Robert Doster, Chico, CA
  123. Jennie MacFarland, Tucson, AZ
  124. David Clark, Norfolk, VA
  125. Ali Iyoob, Raleigh, NC
  126. Yousif Attia, Long Point, ON
  127. tom graham, seabrook nh
  128. Jerry A. Smith, Orrington, ME
  129. Bill Hintze, New Cumberland, PA
  130. Kasia Matyniak, New Cumberland, PA
  131. Joshua Christian, Hutchinson, MN
  132. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  133. Claire Miller, Fair Oaks, CA
  134. G. MewGull, Glen Ellen, CA
  135. Michael Cannon, Mount Prospect, IL
  136. Rob Lane, Charleston, SC
  137. Melissa Hein, North Branch, MN
  138. Mike Ellis, Omaha, NE
  139. Charlie Weaver, Kalkaska, MI
  140. Tim Mcfadden, Southampton, Pa
  141. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, Oregon
  142. Ed Harper, Carmichael, CA
  143. Ken Young, Buhl, Idaho
  144. Paul Glass, South Boston, VA
  145. Marschal Fazio, Glendale, CA
  146. Dominic Cormier, Halifax, N.S
  147. Brian Bielfelt, Greenwich, CT
  148. Orrin Harvey, Tucson, AZ
  149. Clifton Kahler, Avon Park FL
  150. Annie Meyer, Tacoma, WA
  151. Gabe Leidy, Cleveland, OH
  152. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, Oregon
  153. Tucker J. Lutter, Bronson, IA
  154. Cinda Crosley, Pflugerville, TX
  155. Ana Komro, WI
  156. Geoff Parks, Gainesville, FL
  157. Jen Vieth, Hastings, MN
  158. Georgia Conti, Patzcuaro, Michoacan
  159. Rich Swartzentruber, Salem, Oregon
  160. Joel Mundall, Loma Linda, 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
Common Eider
Greater White-fronted Goose
King Eider
Least Grebe
Snow Goose
American Wigeon
Black Scoter
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
Eared Grebe
Emperor Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
Fulvous Whistling-Duck
Painted Bunting
Purple Gallinule
Ross's Goose
Spectacled Eider
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
Wood Duck


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