ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 79


Bird Photo
[+] Click Image for Larger Version

What an odd bird! There aren't a lot of birds with red heads and yellow bellies – among them, Western Tanager, but that species never has a red chest. Knowing that in most species of birds yellow and red are derived from the same family of pigments – the carotenoids – and that the colors can replace each other at times, we might think that this is an aberrantly-plumaged bird. But, the bird is fairly typical, for both the time and the place ("place" in a fairly large sense; more on this, below).

So, with the knowledge or assumption that the plumage is typical, let's start with the long list of ABA-area birds that have extensive unmarked red on the head and chest. Oh, that list is actually pretty short, with a sapsucker, a few tanagers, and some finches. Removing the species that don't sport bright yellow bellies restricts us to the Piranga tanagers. As a quick aside, this genus has been shown to not be tanagers (family Thraupidae) at all, but cardinalids (family Cardinalidae), as noted in the most recent supplement to the A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds (http://www.aou.org/checklist/suppl/AOU_checklist_suppl_50.pdf), a change that has not been incorporated into the ABA online checklist. Yes, that means that the ABA area has lost ALL of its breeding Thraupidae, with only Spindalis now representing this huge neotropical family here, and that as a casual vagrant (though note that Western Spindalis bred in Florida this year (http://birding.typepad.com/peeps/2009/09/index.html).

The Sibley Guide and recent editions of the National Geographic Society guide illustrate plumages quite similar to that exhibited by our quiz bird amongst the various Summer Tanager plumages presented. It might seem odd, however, that none of the other members of the genus represented in these guides seem to sport such an intermediate plumage. However, closer scrutiny of our bird confirms the identification as a Summer Tanager because of the more orange (vs. brick) aspect of the red plumage, the lack of a grayish auricular patch, and the presence of a single red rectrix: the left outermost (on the right side of the picture). The first two features rule out Hepatic Tanager, the last does the job for Scarlet Tanager. Hepatic would also show a darker bill and Scarlet blacker wings.

In Colorado, most of the (presumed) overshooting spring migrants found are immature males in plumage very much like this bird's and the species is well-known for appearing on the breeding grounds in their first spring looking like this. On the other hand, immature males of the other Pirangas don't exhibit this trait, managing to complete their first pre-alternate molt on the winter grounds. The trait is also well-known in the blue buntings (note the lack of capitals!), genus Passerina, that are long-distance migrants, particularly in Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting. I find it most interesting that those species are also cardinalids. This fact might provide another wee bit of evidence supporting the A.O.U.'s recent decision to move Piranga into the Cardinalidae. I took this picture of a molting immature male Summer Tanager at the famous Chico Basin Ranch, Pueblo Co., CO, on 6 May 2007.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the October Bird Photo Quiz—Summer Tanager:

  1. John Brett, Toronto, ON
  2. Claude Auchu, La Pocatiere, Quebec
  3. Lance Verderame, Livingston Manor, New York
  4. Laure Wilson Neish, Penticton, BC Canada
  5. john shamgochian, east providence rhode island
  6. Colin Gjervold, Tampa, FL
  7. JoAnne Domke, Miami
  8. Richard Garrigues, San Antonio de Belén, Costa Rica
  9. Andrew Thornton, St. Augustine, FL
  10. Avery Bartels, Nelson, BC Canada
  11. Steve Arlow, Rochford, Essex, England
  12. Ken Young, Buhl, Idaho
  13. Eric Antonio Martinez, Oaxaca, Mexico
  14. Thomas Hall, Livermore, Colorado
  15. Brandon Percival, Pueblo West, CO
  16. Ryan Phillips, Campbell, CA
  17. Linda Fink, Grand Ronde, OR
  18. logan Kahle, san francisco, CA
  19. Annie Meyer, Tacoma, WA
  20. Dean Nicholson, Cranbrook, B.C.
  21. Valerie J. Harris, Cranbrook, B.C.
  22. Pete Fenner, East Peoria, IL
  23. David Hollie, Ringgold, GA
  24. Daroczi J. Szilard, Tg.-Mures, Romania
  25. Gyekeny Gertrud, Targu Mures, Romania
  26. Marcel Such, Lyons, CO
  27. Stephen Joly, Kamloops, BC
  28. Dan Kopp, Sacramento, CA
  29. William Jones, Shropshire, UK
  30. Barb Robertson, Ottawa, Ont., Canada
  31. Steven Womack, Beaufort, South Carolina
  32. Ben Coulter, Etna, PA
  33. Jen Vieth, Hastings, MN
  34. Jason Pietrzak, Moab, UT
  35. Cameron Carver, Arlington, Tx
  36. Claude Morris, Austin, TX
  37. Wil Domke, Miami, FL
  38. Benjamin Van Doren, White Plains, NY
  39. Raymond VanBuskirk, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  40. Gerrad Jones, Carson City, Nevada
  41. Wes Serafin, Orland Pk,Il 60462
  42. Zach Smith, Davis, Ca.
  43. Ben Young, Kalispell, MT
  44. Michael Miller, Chicago, Illinois
  45. Amy St. Pierre, Kelly, WY
  46. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, ON
  47. Nathan Swick, Chapel Hill, NC
  48. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  49. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  50. Thomas Snetsinger, Brownsville, OR
  51. Jonathan Lautenbach, Grand Rapids, MI
  52. Michael S. Levy, Centereach, N.Y.
  53. Patty McKelvey, Sheffield Village, Ohio
  54. Chris Warren, San Marcos, TX
  55. Jim Ross, Pleasanton, CA.
  56. Abram Fleishman, Bahia de Kino, Sonora, MX
  57. Dwight Porter, Portland, Oregon
  58. mark eden, palm bay, fl
  59. Tom Benson, San Bernardino, CA
  60. Nels F. Thompson, Owatonna, MN
  61. Nick Lund, Portland, Maine
  62. Eamon Corbett, Pelham, NY
  63. Andy Johnson, Ann Arbor, MI
  64. Haynes Werner, Beaufort, S.C.
  65. Glenn Werner, Beaufort, S.C.
  66. Stephen Chang, New York, NY
  67. Steve Mitten, Belize City, Belize
  68. Evan Houston, Seattle, WA
  69. Julio M. Gomez, Davis, CA
  70. Adam Betuel, Columbus, OH
  71. Daryll Myhr, Kelowna,BC,Canada
  72. James Fox, Farmington Hills, MI
  73. Ryan Edmondson, Fishers
  74. Joshua D. Kreitzer, Provo, UT
  75. Greg Schrott, Sebring, FL
  76. Wayne Meyer, Denison, TX
  77. Alan Dupuis, Cambridge, NY
  78. Jeremy Kimm, Victoria, BC
  79. Mark Rosenstein, Cambridge, MA
  80. Matthew Daw, Raleigh, NC
  81. robert wilson, Salt Lake City, UT
  82. Randy Royal, beaufort, S.C.
  83. Jake McCumber, Austin, TX
  84. Philip Kline, Tucson, AZ
  85. Robert Packard, Riverside, CA
  86. Ethan Kistler, Newton Falls, Ohio
  87. Nikolas Kotovich, Hinesburg VT
  88. Matthew Rymkiewicz, New York, NY
  89. Pam Myers, Santa Cruz, CA
  90. Larry Therrien, Belchertown, MA
  91. Will Sweet, Sharon, MA
  92. Malkolm Boothroyd, Whitehorse, Yukon
  93. Ross Schaefer, Atascadero,CA
  94. Corey Husic, Kunkletown, PA
  95. David Bell, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  96. Brian E. Small, Los Angeles, CA
  97. Venceslau Barbosa da Silva, Planaltina-DF-Brazil
  98. Paul Levesque, Vancouver, BC
  99. Evan Caves, Santa Barbara, CA
  100. Jeremy Medina, Tucson, AZ
  101. Jim Kopitzke, Mesa AZ
  102. shaun Hicks, Morrisville, Pennsylvania
  103. Joe Fischer, TX
  104. Ashley Smith, Athens, OH
  105. Alex Lin-Moore, Houston, TX
  106. Maggie Maners, Owens Cross Roads, AL
  107. John Gluth, Brentwood, NY
  108. Georgia Conti, Patzcuaro, Michoacan
  109. Thomas Hopkins, St. Petersburg, Florida
  110. Victor Ayala, La Paz, Baja California Sur
  111. Hope Batcheller, Petersburgh, NY
  112. Kevin Jacobson, Hamilton, Ga
  113. Johnathan Hruska, Ithaca, NY
  114. Claire Miller, Fair Oaks, CA
  115. John Branchflower, Beaumont, CA
  116. Harmony Coriddi, Marion, New York
  117. Myles Falconer, Murrilo, ON
  118. Yousif Attia, Long Point, ON
  119. Mike Fialkovich, Pittsburgh, PA
  120. John Banks, Pittsford, NY
  121. Jason McGuire, London ON
  122. Hannah Werner, Beaufort, S.C.
  123. Niko Ranta, Corvallis, Oregon
  124. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  125. Jessica Prutzman, Portland, OR
  126. Brenden Anthony Gebhart, Prescott, AZ
  127. Dave Slager, Columbus, Ohio
  128. Kevin M Hill, SHORELINE
  129. Franny Geller, New York, NY
  130. Nathan Romney, Provo, UT
  131. Alexandre Anctil, Rimouski, Québec
  132. Ed Harper, Carmichael, CA
  133. Christine Rock, Vancouver, BC
  134. Robert Doster, Chico, CA
  135. Jamie Bradford, Chandler, Arizona
  136. John Kuenzli, Columbus, OH
  137. Richard Laughlin, Spring, TX
  138. Kevin Welsh, Novi, Mi
  139. Michael Lester, Haworth, NJ
  140. Rick Hibpshman, Issaquah, WA
  141. Bryan Patrick, Woodland Park, CO
  142. Troy Alello, Denham Springs, La
  143. tom graham, seabrook nh
  144. Blake Mathys, Williamstown, NJ
  145. Joan Lucas, Wilson, WY
  146. Elaine MacPherson, Sierra Madre, CA
  147. Lance Bastian, Greenville, SC
  148. Harry Hooper, Tallahassee, Florida
  149. Graham Etherington, Norwich, England
  150. Brian McDermott, Canton, NC
  151. Susan Kritzik, Portola Valley, CA
  152. Dan Walker, Carrizo Springs, Texas
  153. Geoff Parks, Gainesville, FL
  154. Mary Walsh, Valencia, CA
  155. Russell Cannings, Kelowna, British Columbia
  156. Nicole Perretta, San Diego, CA
  157. Michael Lanzone, Rector, PA
  158. Jessica Bridges, Sanford, NC
  159. Su Snyder, Wooster, OH
  160. Liis Veelma, Winnipeg MB
  161. Kari Williams, Milwaukee, WI
  162. Julie Hart, Laramie, WY
  163. Matt Talluto, Laramie, WY
  164. Lauren Throop, Laramie, WY
  165. Benoit Dorion, Laval, Quebec, Canada
  166. Galen Frank-Bishop, Plainfield MA
  167. David Perpinan, Athens, Georgia
  168. Sandy Schlechter, Sequim, washington
  169. Cathleen Frey, Pensacola, FL
  170. Janneke Kimstra, Bilthoven The Netherlands
  171. Shane DuBay, Albuquerque, NM
  172. Anthony Laquidara, Plainsboro, New Jersey
  173. Rob Maciver, Brampton, ON
  174. Pam Baum, Tucson, AZ
  175. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, Oregon
  176. David Clark, Norfolk, VA
  177. Bob Miller, Brawley, CA
  178. Ken Rieker, Lansdale,Pa
  179. Ray Cooke, Charlottetown PE
  180. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, Oregon
  181. Linda Swanson, San Francisco, CA
  182. Marlene Jay Cashen, Veradale, Washington
  183. Josh Obrecht, Ames, IA
  184. Andrew Keaveney, Etobicoke, Ontario
  185. Vincent F. Nichnadowicz, Princeton Junction, nj
  186. John Hammond, Durham, North Carolina
  187. Eddie Mundall, Thompson Falls, MT
  188. kathy, glide, or
  189. Orrin Harvey, Tucson, AZ
  190. Bobby Walsh, Davis, CA
  191. Lisa Moore, seattle, wa
  192. 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.

Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Western Tanager
Flame-colored Tanager
Hepatic Tanager
Painted Bunting
Baltimore Oriole
Pine Grosbeak


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