Monday, June 18, 2012

Quiz Closure

Thanks to Chris, Jen, Mia, and Dan for submitting answers--You all are champs!

Here are the answers for the birding pop quiz:

1) Willow Flycatcher. The coloration on the beak is a bit misleading here (due to lighting), but the call (supplied in the hint) is diagnostic. Mia and Jen, nice work!

2) There's not too much to go on with this photo. The olive green back and white belly help narrow it down, but the slight, blurry hint of red on the eye, along with the broken eye-ring, point to Red-Eyed Vireo--Nice work Jen!

3) I cringe at this sign every time I visit the Gilbert Water Ranch...oh the shame it brings upon Arizona birding. As you all mentioned, it's an Abert's Towhee, and the White-throated Sparrow was pictured in place of the proper White-crowned Sparrow. Every state has a few skeletons in the closet I guess...

4) There are only two wood Thrushes (so, excluding Robins and Bluebirds) one can expect to see in north central Arizona in the summer. This bird is unusual in that is seems to lack the eye ring found both on Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes. The lack of any rusty coloration on the tail, and the overall gray coloration, point towards Swainson's, but to be honest I'm not 100% on this bird.

Thanks to all for playing!


  1. I think the thrush is a Hermit...depending on the subspecies, they can be much grayer than Swainson's, and I've not seen Swainson's with such a pale face. The lack of color in the tail could be an artifact of the angle and lighting, but you saw the bird so you would know better than me.

    Swainson's also favor riparian and slightly moister habitats for breeding than Hermits, who prefer higher elevation areas with a lot of conifers. All bets are off in migration though.

    1. That's interesting about the grayer subspecies Seagull. I gawked at this bird for a long time and couldn't find a smidgeon of rusty brown. My next thought was then, "This bird has way too pale a face to be a Hermit Thrush," but you've had the opposite observation. Between Hermit Thrushes and Swainson's, I've seen way way more of the former, so I'm not a good judge here.

      It seems maybe a bit late for them to be migrating, but I tried to take that into consideration too. This bird was totally silent and tried to stay mostly still up high in its tree. I read that Swainson's like the wetter areas, as you say, but this bird also happened to be in a tree right next to a creek, so it seemed like I couldn't count that factor. The other interesting thing was that I could not find any other Thrushes, Hermit or Swainson's, in the area, not just at this site but at different birding spots along the Mogollon Rim, as if none of them wanted to set up house there this summer (and with fires all over the place, who can blame em').

      Anyhow I really appreciate the input. I'm always inclined to favor your judgments, but I fear this bird may just have to go in the 'forever unidentified' folder, which I guess invalidates my quiz...

  2. Haaaaa! Loved this post and pics:)