ABA Photo Quiz

ABA Online Bird Photo Quiz 87


Bird Photo
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This month's quiz subject was an obvious shorebird and, obvious to most, a small sandpiper. The strong patterning including fringing on the upperparts and the long, thinnish bill both point away from the plovers and the legs are simply too short for our quiz bird to be one of the larger sandpipers (e.g., curlews, godwits, Willet, or yellowlegs). The dark legs rule out Spotted and Common sandpipers and most of the medium-sized sandpipers (e.g., dowitchers; tattlers; turnstones; Red Knot; and Purple, Rock, Pectoral, Sharp-tailed, Stilt, and Solitary sandpipers) leaving us with Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, and the peeps/stints. Looking closely at the bird's feet, we can rule out Sanderling, as that species lacks a hind toe (the only sandpiper in the world with that feature) among other features that eliminate that little surf-runner. Our bird's bill is just too short and not curved enough for either Curlew Sand or Dunlin, so it's to the peeps we go (the bill also rules out Terek Sandpiper, in case you still had that one in the mix).

Once among the small Calidris sandpipers, there are a couple of dichotomies that we could use to winnow our set of choices. However, it might be best at this point to attempt age determination and the season. The combination of having some upper scapulars with rufous edges and worn greater coverts suggests that the picture was taken in spring. A mid- to late-summer seasonality is probably ruled out by the fact that those greater coverts aren't terribly worn and that the apparently newly-grown alternate plumage (scapulars and back feathers) are in great shape.

Knowing the time and the plumage, we can probably rule out all but the drabbest of first-cycle Red-necked and Little stints and we could continue down the methodical road of peep ID (overall plumage color – gray vs. brown, wingtip projection, bill shape, posture, etc.), but we can also short-stop the ID process by noting two very key features: the pale color at the base of the mandible and the fine streaking on the flank and undertail covert feathers. Both of these features send us arrow-straight to the correct answer and rule out all the other options! This White-rumped Sandpiper was practicing its roadrunner imitation at Haxtun, Phillips Co., CO, on 26 May 2006.


The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the June Bird Photo Quiz—White-rumped Sandpiper:

  1. Dean Nicholson, Cranbrook, B.C.
  2. Valerie J. Harris, Cranbrook, B.C.
  3. Claude Auchu, La Pocatiere, Quebec
  4. John Brett, Toronto, ON
  5. Spencer Hardy, Norwich, VT
  6. Eric Antonio Martinez, Oaxaca, Mexico
  7. Peter Scully, South Royalton, VT
  8. Barb Duncan, Jefferson City, MO
  9. Steve Mitten, Belize City, BZ
  10. Corey Husic, Kunkletown, PA
  11. Pam Myers, Santa Cruz, CA
  12. Nick Newberry, Oakton, Virginia
  13. Liis Veelma, Winnipeg MB
  14. Steve Arlow, Rochford, Essex, England
  15. Joel Such, Lyons, Colorado
  16. Marcel Such, Lyons, Colorado
  17. Rosemarie Widmer, Allendale NJ
  18. Ezra M. Hosch, Mahtomedi MN
  19. Joel Mundall, Loma Linda, CA
  20. Jim Kopitzke, Mesa, AZ
  21. Elaine MacPherson, Sierra Madre CA
  22. Tony coomer, Dumfries, VA
  23. Chris Warren, San Marcos, TX
  24. Lance Verderame, Livingston Manor, New York
  25. Richard Garrigues, San Antonio de Belén, Costa Rica
  26. Keri Bowling, Loveland, CO
  27. Graham Etherington, Norwich, England
  28. Patty McKelvey, Sheffield Village, OH
  29. Jamie Chavez, Santa Maria, CA
  30. Sam Burckhardt, Chicago, IL
  31. Aaron Bilyeu, Placerville, CA
  32. Ross Schaefer, Atascadero, CA
  33. Max Wilson, Kensington, MD
  34. Karl Erich Mayer, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
  35. Kevin Kerr, Guelph, ON
  36. Eric Pineiro, Titusville, FL
  37. Elizabeth Conn, Oneonta, Alabama
  38. Andrew Thornton, St. Augustine, FL
  39. Jacob Drucker, New York, NY
  40. John Branchflower, Beaumont, CA
  41. Liston Rice, Houston, TX
  42. Steve Hampton, Davis, CA
  43. Colin R Gjervold, Tampa, FL
  44. John Gluth, Brentwood, NY
  45. Jason McGuire, London, ON
  46. Bryan Shirley, Payson, UT
  47. Don Pendleton, Palo Alto, CA
  48. Ed Harper, Carmichael, CA
  49. Dan, Barrigada, Guam
  50. Greg Schrott, Sebring, FL
  51. Tom Benson, San Bernardino, CA
  52. Matthew Rymkiewicz, New York, NY
  53. Nathan Swick, Chapel HIll, NC
  54. Greg Neise, Chicago, IL
  55. Kathy Vazquez, Bronx, NY
  56. Jess Carrero, Bronx, NY
  57. Michael Lester, Haworth, NJ
  58. Barb Robertson, Ottawa, Ontario Canada
  59. Elaine Nakash, Bowie, MD
  60. David Bell, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  61. Thomas Hopkins, Saint Petersburg, Florida
  62. Bob Proctor, Elgin, Scotland
  63. Guy McWethy, Renton, WA
  64. Yousif Attia, Calgary, AB
  65. Gary W. Potter, Sanger, CA
  66. Christine Amaral, North Scituate,RI
  67. Ann Gibson, winfield, BC
  68. Ben Coulter, Etna, PA
  69. Ryan Edmondson, Fishers IN
  70. Logan Kahle, San Francisco, CA
  71. Claire Miller, Fair Oaks, CA
  72. Nathaniel Hernandez, Great Meadows, New Jersey
  73. Joseph Hernandez, Great Meadows, New Jersey
  74. Silas Hernandez, Great Meadows, New Jersey
  75. Sharon Paige, Sequim WA
  76. Celestyn Brozek, Albuquerque, NM
  77. Christian Friis, Toronto, Ontario
  78. Matthew Cvetas, Evanston, IL
  79. Robert Packard, Riverside, CA
  80. Jim Mountjoy, Galesburg, IL
  81. clarence ballenger, trenton,nc
  82. Andrew Fayer, Fort Washington, PA
  83. Traci Van Tine, Otter Lake, MI
  84. Tristan Weinbrenner, McPherson, Ks
  85. Steven Lewitzky, San Francisco, California
  86. Linda Swanson, San Francisco, CA
  87. Blake Mathys, Williamstown, NJ
  88. tom graham, seabrook nh
  89. Sarah Huson, Spring, TX
  90. Richard Laughlin, Spring, TX
  91. Adam Betuel, Terre Haute, IN
  92. Avery Bartels, Nelson, BC, canada
  93. Benoit Dorion, Laval, Quebec, Canada
  94. Josh Yoder, dundee ohio
  95. Linda Fink, Grand Ronde, OR
  96. Su Snyder, Wooster, OH
  97. Paul Levesque, Vancouver, BC
  98. Christine Rock, Vancouver, BC
  99. Mike Fialkovich, Pittsburgh, PA
  100. Deana Gadd, Miramichi, NB, Canada
  101. David C. Smith, Owings Mills, MD
  102. Marlene Jay Cashen, Veradale, Washington
  103. John McClaran, San Luis Obispo, CA
  104. Dave Slager, Columbus, Ohio
  105. Grant McCreary, Cumming, GA
  106. Justin Bosler, Arcata, CA
  107. Jim Flynn, Seattle, WA
  108. Larry Kline, Fredericksburg, VA
  109. David Hollie, Ringgold, GA
  110. William von Herff, Ottawa, Ontario
  111. Georgia Conti, Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico
  112. Harmony Coriddi, Marion, New York
  113. Greg Zupansic, Eugene, Oregon
  114. Matthew Schneider, Silverton, Oregon
  115. Ron Pozzi, Granite Bay, CA
  116. Daroczi J. Szilard, Tg.-Mures, Romania
  117. Gyekeny Gertrud, Targu Mures, Romania
  118. David Rosenbaum, Lorena, TX
  119. Karlo Antonio, Veracruz, Mexico
  120. Terri Everett, Big Rapids, MI
  121. Jerry Jourdan, Wyandotte, MI
  122. Sarah T., Ann Arbor, MI
  123. Robert Doster, Chico, CA
  124. Paul Glass, South Boston, VA
  125. Evan Houston, WA
  126. Casey Harms, Hermiston, OR

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.

White-rumped Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Little Stint
Pectoral Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper
Red Knot
Rock Ptarmigan
Rock Sandpiper


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