Monday, April 27, 2009

Quiz #297 (2009-2-05) Answer

Click the picture for a larger view.

Answer by Mark Gabriel and Tony Leukering

Mark Gabriel, again, provided a thorough answer, so I copied and pasted it in, below.

"I can see enough of it to see that it is a loon. No grebe, cormorant, nor merganser would have such a light neck and patterned back, and the bill, what I can see of it, is slim and pointed -- all good for loon.

"The bird seems smallish, rather delicate, without the thick thick and heavy, blocky head of Common, Yellow-billed Loon, or Arctic loons. The best features are the finely streaked, or white-speckled, hindneck and crown and the rather markedly whitish-speckled back. The hindneck feature is really pretty darned diagnostic for Red-throated Loon, and in the scientific species name (Gavia stellata), the species name means starry, or set with stars, supposedly referring to the speckled back (thank you, Wikipedia!).

"Does everything else fit? Again this seems like a smallish-proportioned and -sized loon, good for Red-throated. There is a rather white foreneck, with no dark border between the gray hindneck and white foreneck (which would be expected in Pacific Loon and sometimes Arctic). That is, the sides to the neck are unpatterned, good for Red-throated Loon. The bill is slim -- and though the angle makes this hard to judge -- the bird seems to be holding the bill up-tilted. Again, good for Red-throated Loon. Finally, the back, generally dark with loads of white streaks and spots near the feather tips, giving this a generally light-colored back "look" from afar; also good for Red-throated Loon. (Pacific would look blacker-backed with pale edges to the feathers, but not speckled and light like this.)

"Age? The angle, resolution, and size of the photo make this a bit hard to judge. However I am going to call the color of the back feathers dull, rather than glossy, dark gray; the feathers of the upper back and scapulars look pointed, with a pair of white or dull white streaks at the fringe, converging in a "V" shape toward the tip; and the dark of the crown seems to extend down at least to the eye, perhaps enclosing it. These all point to a juvenile bird."

Mark's answer was thorough enough that I really don't have anything to add, other than that one respondent's answer was precluded from being correct for the competition as it had the first 't' capitalized.

Tallies of incorrect species provided in answers:
Pacific Loon - 1

The 32 of 33 providing the correct answer:
Al Guarente
Chuck Carlson
James Stephenson
Bryan Guarente
Robert McNab
Victor Germain
Jonathan Lautenbach
George Cresswell
Tara Nelson
Su Snyder
Libby Porzig
Todd Reeves
Thomas Hall
Matt Webb
Mark Dettling
Chris Warren
Scott Yanco
Peter Wilkinson
Terry Nelson
Mark Gabriel
Andy Dettling
Aaron Brees
David Hartley
Barbara Deneen
Tyler Bell
Peter Burke
Joel Such
Marcel Such
Joe Bens
Chishun Kwong
David Hill
Andrea Smith-Guarente

Answer: Red-throated Loon