Monday, October 4, 2010
Click on picture(s) for a larger view.
Answer by Marcel Such and Tony Leukering
Marcel Such provided a good answer, so I will start this solution with his words.
"For this quiz, we have a proportionately large bird in flight, heading directly toward the camera. It has fairly long, broad wings; a well-built body; and long, black legs. One thing that I’ll use to narrow our possibilities down a bit is the neck . . . a long one, which is being carried in a characteristic curved, or S-shaped, posture. Of the birds in the long-necked-and-long-legged category – families Ardeidae, Ciconiidae, and Gruidae, or herons, ibis, and cranes, respectively – only the herons hold their necks in such a way; all of the others fly with necks held out straight.
"From here, it is an easy jump to the correct species by looking at the distinctly bicolored wings (white on the leading edge, black on the trailing edge) and body (rust red on the front end, and pure white on the back end). This leaves us with only one possibility, a juvenile Tricolored Heron (adults have a slate blue-purple head and neck). But, there is a problem on this bird, the legs. Our quiz bird has black legs, not the expected bright yellow ones. I’m going to stick with my conclusion of a Tricolor, believing that the odd coloration is due to a weird trick of the light, or that the legs are covered in mud or some other dark substance. Or something completely different."
I also liked Robert McNab's answer: "Since Pterodactyls are extinct (and not birds), I'll have to go with Tricolored Heron."
I was gratified to receive no answers that included a hyphen in the quiz species' name; this is a common mistake made by birders.
Marcel was correct in thinking that one of the options for the apparently dark legs was photographic effect. This bird's legs are yellow, the color is just not apparent in the quiz picture, though is in the supplementary picture that I provide below. I took both pictures of the same bird at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge, Cape May Co., NJ, on 21 August 2010, the same date and place as the previous Mr. Bill quiz photo.
With most of the fourth quarter to go, there's a tight race for the annual competition title, with Joel Such (34 correct), Al Guarente (33), and Peter Wilkinson (32) being the front-runners.
Incorrect species provided as answers:
Wood Stork - 1
Whooping Crane - 1
White Ibis - 2
Black Skimmer - 1
Willet - 1
Congratulations to the 16 of 22 getting the quiz correct:
Answer: Tricolored Heron