Monday, June 28, 2010

Quiz #355 (2010-2-13) Solution

Click on picture(s) for a larger view.

Answer by Tony Leukering

The first respondent and the final three respondents were the only ones getting this week's tough quiz correct and a lot of folks stayed home. I don't blame 'em, as my first reaction to this picture was also wrong.

The quiz bird presents an odd combination of rufous upperparts and dark gray underparts, and Bewick's Wren seems an eminently reasonable choice for the ID with such coloration. Unfortunately, as I found when I first perused the pic, that reasonable option is not correct, as Bewick's Wrens, especially the strongly rufous forms, sport rufous flanks and, usually, some indication of dark barring on the primaries. With that option eliminated, our bird just about has to be a sparrow of some sort; there just are not a lot of ABA-area options for rufous-and-gray passerines. With gray underparts, we might head to the juncoes, but the richly rufous wings rule out all members of that genus. The lack of streaking underneath eliminates another couple options in the Fox Sparrow group. Black-chinned Sparrow has a streaked back and strongly fringed wing coverts, so that one is ruled out.

We are left with only one option, a species that, as soon as I saw this individual (and I also photographed this individual, so really have no excuse for guessing wrong on the picture), the species supplanted Le Conte's as my favorite sparrow species. Derek Hill photographed this adult Five-striped Sparrow at California Gulch, AZ, in August 2006. I have provided, below, another view of the same bird.

In a most interesting quarter, Joel Such ran away with top honors by being the only respondent to record a perfect score. Congrats, Joel! Joel's brother, Marcel, just edged out Chris Warren for second place, though they both scored 11 of 13 correct.

Incorrect species provided as answers:
Bewick's Wren - 5
House Sparrow - 1
Dark-eyed Junco - 2
Yellow-eyed Junco - 1

Congratulations to the 4 of 13 getting the quiz correct:
Thomas Hall
Tyler Bell
Marcel Such
Joel Such

Answer: Five-striped Sparrow