ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 86


Bird Photo
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This month, we've got an all-dark bird perched on a rock (and, yes, the picture is oriented correctly). The features that pop out to me, other than the “unicoloredness,” include the very long wings and the very short bill. We could spend a lot of time paging through the field guide looking at all-dark (or, at least, apparently all-dark) birds, but just a bit of biology knowledge can short-stop that task. Very few birds perch in this vertical manner and the only ones that do that reside on the ABA list and that are also all dark are the swifts. Once into this family, we can quickly rule out the two “White-throateds” – Swift and Needletail; White-collared, Common, and Fork-tailed swifts; and Antillean Palm-Swift due to our bird's lack of white on the underparts, particularly the throat and chest. This massacre of ABA-area rarity possibilities and one regular species leaves us with only our two Chaetura swifts (Chimney and Vaux's) and Black Swift. Vaux's Swift nearly always sports at least an obviously paler throat than does our bird so we might be able to rule out that wee beastie. Even Chimney Swift has a throat at least a bit paler than the rest of the bird. The confirming features of this latest elimination of possibilities lies in the face. Neither of the two Chaetura sport our quiz bird's deep-black patch immediately before the eye contrasting with the silvered loral area. In fact, no other ABA-area swift matches our bird's facial pattern. However, it's a good thing that no other Cypseloides swifts (a generally neotropical genus) have been accepted to the ABA-area list, as making a definitive ID of this bird would be incredibly more difficult, if not impossible.

I took this picture of an adult Black Swift at Zapata Falls, Alamosa Co., CO, on 17 August 2006. The bird was one of nine (or so; my memory doesn't serve me all that well at times; it's heck to get old!) Black Swifts that staff and volunteers of the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (www.rmbo.org) caught and banded as part of a long-term project to map colonies and determine various parameters of the occupation of colony sites. RMBO's efforts in Colorado have greatly increased our knowledge and understanding of this very poorly known species. In fact, with an awful lot of luck, this summer's efforts may finally reveal the winter grounds of North American-breeding Black Swifts, as data loggers were placed on some of the Black Swifts banded in 2009. The luck aspect is required because they will need to recapture at least one of those individuals with data loggers in order to be able to obtain the information on where those birds have been in the intervening year. I whole-heartedly wish them that luck!


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

  1. Laure W. Neish, Penticton, BC Canada
  2. Patty McKelvey, Sheffield Village, Ohio
  3. Andrew Fayer, Fort Washington, PA
  4. Ed Harper, Carmichael, CA
  5. Olivier Barden, Québec City, Qc
  6. Karl Erich Mayer, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
  7. Pam Myers, Santa Cruz, CA
  8. Christine Amaral, North Scituate
  9. Steve Arlow, Rochford, Essex, England
  10. Thomas Ford-Hutchinson, Doylestown, PA
  11. Wayne Meyer, Denison, TX
  12. Ryan Edmondson, Fishers
  13. Nathaniel Hernandez, Great Meadows, New Jersey
  14. Silas Hernandez, Great Meadows, New Jersey
  15. Joseph Hernandez, Great Meadows, New Jersey
  16. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  17. Kevin M Hill, SHORELINE, WA
  18. Amy St. Pierre, Kelly, WY
  19. Tom Benson, San Bernardino, CA
  20. Ann Gibson, Winfield, BC
  21. Robert Packard, Riverside, CA
  22. David Hollie, Ringgold, GA
  23. Michael S. Levy, Centereach, N.Y.
  24. Anise Algazzali, Pinole, CA
  25. George F. Cresswell, Colorado Springs
  26. Barb Robertson, Ottawa, Ontario Canada
  27. Liis Veelma, Winnipeg MB
  28. Logan Kahle, San francisco, CA
  29. William Jones, Shropshire, England
  30. Eric Antonio Martinez, Oaxaca, Mexico
  31. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, ON
  32. Georgia Conti, Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico
  33. Bob Proctor, Elgin, Scotland
  34. David Bell, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  35. Paul Levesque, Vancouver, BC
  36. Sarah Huson, Spring, TX
  37. Ben Coulter, Etna, PA
  38. Dan, Barrigada, Guam
  39. Greg Schrott, Sebring, FL
  40. Christine Rock, Vancouver, BC
  41. Robin LaFortune, Delano, MN
  42. Jacob Cooper, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  43. Corey Plank, Portland, OR
  44. Karen Rubinstein, New York, NY
  45. Steve Mitten, Belize City, BZ
  46. Rick Poulin, Ottawa, Ontario
  47. Jamie Chavez, Santa Maria, CA
  48. Nicholas Minor, Libertyville, Illinois
  49. Adam Betuel, Terre Haute, IN
  50. Margaret Smith, Boulder, CO
  51. Andre Moncrieff, Berrien Springs, MI
  52. Claude Auchu, La Pocatiere, Quebec
  53. Lucie Bruce, Houston, TX
  54. Michael Cannon, Mount Prospect, IL
  55. Robert Wilson, Salt Lake City, UT
  56. Gary W. Potter, Sanger, CA
  57. Avery Bartels, Nelson, BC, Canada
  58. Sharon Harrow, San Clemente, CA
  59. James Cook, Springdale, AR
  60. Anton Mach, Yardley, PA
  61. Kathy Vazquez, Bronx, NY
  62. Jess Carrero, Bronx, NY
  63. Shaun Hicks, Morrisville, Pennsylvania
  64. Max Wilson, Kensington, MD
  65. Keri Bowling, Loveland, CO
  66. Colin R Gjervold, Tampa, Florida
  67. Eric Sibbald, Upper Saddle River, NJ
  68. Hans R. Koelz, Uitikon, Switzerland
  69. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  70. Richard Jeffers, Santa Clara, CA
  71. Brian Uher-Koch, Bellingham, WA
  72. Elizabeth Conn, Oneonta, Alabama
  73. Celestyn Brozek, Albuquerque, NM
  74. Radd Icenoggle, Bozeman, MT
  75. Maggie Maners, Owens Cross Roads, AL
  76. Miriam Rognlie, Bozeman, MT
  77. Graham Etherington, Norwich, England
  78. Alex Tait, San Jose, CA
  79. Lisa Moore, seattle, wa
  80. Reba Browning, Pottsboro, TX
  81. Wes Serafin, Orland Pk,Il 60462
  82. Linda Swanson, San Francisco, CA
  83. Chris Warren, San Marcos, TX
  84. Sam Burckhardt, Chicago, IL
  85. Ross Schaefer, Atascadero, CA
  86. Spencer Hardy, Norwich, VT
  87. James McKay, Mesa, AZ
  88. Claire Miller, Fair Oaks, CA
  89. Joel Such, Lyons, Colorado
  90. Linda Fink, Grand Ronde, OR
  91. Tara Knable, Waterford, NY
  92. Jeff Hole, Orlando, Florida
  93. Mark Stackhouse, San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
  94. John Gluth, Brentwood, NY
  95. Charles Rossa, Manassas, VA
  96. Jim Mountjoy, Galesburg, IL
  97. Stephen Mammoser, Cohutta, GA
  98. Su Snyder, Wooster, OH
  99. Sarah T., Ann Arbor, MI
  100. Ron Pozzi, Granite Bat, CA
  101. Dean Nicholson, Cranbrook, B.C.
  102. Valerie J. Harris, Cranbrook, B.C.
  103. Brandon Percival, Pueblo West, CO
  104. Barb Duncan, Jefferson City, MO
  105. John Branchflower, Beaumont, CA
  106. Sharon Paige, Sequim WA
  107. Larry Kline, Fredericksburg, VA
  108. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, Oregon
  109. Benoit Dorion, Laval, Quebec, Canada
  110. Ruthie Stearns, Lincoln, NE
  111. Jon Atwood, Keene, NH
  112. Grant McCreary, Cumming, GA
  113. Elaine MacPherson, Sierra Madre, CA
  114. Andrew Thornton, St. Augustine, FL
  115. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, Oregon
  116. Jim Flynn, Seattle, WA
  117. Jill Kaminski, Naples, FL
  118. Sandy Schlechter, Sequim, Washington
  119. Christian Friis, Toronto, ON
  120. Jeremy Kimm, Victoria, BC
  121. Marlene Jay Cashen, Veradale, Washington
  122. Larry Harms, Redlands.california
  123. Robert Doster, Chico, CA
  124. Daroczi J. Szilard, Tg.-Mures, Romania
  125. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  126. Gene Gandy, Tallahassee, Florida
  127. Mike Fialkovich, Pittsburgh, PA
  128. Jimmy Warren, Schwenksville, PA
  129. Blake Mathys, Williamstown, NJ
  130. Ali Iyoob, Raleigh, NC
  131. John Hammond, Durham, NC
  132. Jeff Bogan, Bethel Park, PA
  133. Evan Houston, WA
  134. Harmony Coriddi, Marion, New York
  135. Julie Hart, Laramie, WY
  136. Rich Swartzentruber, Salem, Oregon

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.

Black Swift
Chimney Swift
Vaux's Swift
Common Swift
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Purple Martin
White-throated Swift


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