Monday, December 19, 2011

Quiz #430 (2011-4-12) Solution

Click on picture(s) for a larger view.

Solution by Tony Leukering

Happy New Year! The 2011 year saw 1214 responses to the CFO Photo Quiz from 96 individuals. The CFO webmaster tells me, however, that the quiz received much, much more traffic than suggested by the number of responses. So, all you lurkers out there, consider sending in an answer or two this year.

The best-laid plans of mice and men! This quiz was intended, primarily, as a nomenclatural quiz, though I thought that at least a few might have difficulty with the identification aspect. I'll get into the ID aspect first, then come back to the nomenclatural problem presented by the quiz picture.

Our quiz bird is in the process of diving, or is tipping up to feed. Either way, the primary feature that we need notice is the feet, particularly the incredibly long toes. The only real possibilities for such long toes in the ABA area are species with scientific names of Gallinula americana, Porphyrio martinica, and Jacana spinosa. The last of these is not known for diving, foraging on floating vegetation. That species also has gray legs, unlike our bird's yellow legs with orange-red basal rings, nor does it have a mix of black and white on the undertail coverts. The middle of these three species has yellow legs, but lacks the quiz bird's basal rings and sports more white in the undertail coverts than does our bird. American Coot (Fulica americana) is ruled out both by the non-lobed toes of our quiz bird and by those orange-red basal rings, that are often visible on swimming birds.

Now, back to the nomenclatural problem, which was succinctly expressed by Aaron Brees in his submission:

"The second problem is a matter of rule interpretation. CFO Photo Quiz rule #4, states:

All answers, to be considered correct for the purposes of the competition, MUST be presented in the form of a full species name (no forms, no subspecies, etc.) and in the exact current nomenclature (including hyphens and spacing) delineated by the American Ornithologists' Union and as presented by the American Birding Association (ABA).

"The AOU has accepted the split of Gallinula chloropus and changed the name of the New World representative to Common Gallinule (Gallinula americana). The ABA checklist, including the most current published supplement, still lists this bird as 'Common Moorhen.' So, the AOU has 'delineated' the name as Common Gallinule, but how has the ABA 'presented' the new name if it hasn't published a supplement since the split? What, exactly, does 'presented' mean in this context. It seems like 'adopted' would be a more appropriate term, but I digress.

"Hopefully, the answer to this seeming contradiction created by quiz rule #4 is this statement at the bottom of the ABA Checklist Committee Bylaws:

English names: The ABA-CLC will cease to 'pre-approve' AOU decisions but instead will automatically adopt any such decisions.

"I interpret 'automatically adopt any such decisions' to mean that no vote or publication is necessary. When the AOU published the name change, it instantly became the official ABA name as well. So I'll stick with 'Common Gallinule' for my answer."

Thanks, Aaron, for a thorough, and novel, approach to the problem that I encountered upon finding that as of late December, the ABA had still not incorporated any of the AOU's 2011 changes in nomenclature and taxonomy into the online version of the ABA checklist, which is what I use as the final arbiter of such for the CFO Photo Quiz. The quiz was intended to note whether respondents were keeping up with nomenclatural changes, such that answers of 'Common Moorhen' would have been precluded from being correct for the competition, as that name should not have been present on the ABA checklist. [As an important aside, Aaron also noted that the AOU has not acted on a recent Alaska record of the Old World species and Peter Wilkinson noted that, given the view in the quiz photo, the two species are not separable.] So, despite the publication in the ABA's flagship print publication, Birding, of the ABA's changes to the checklist (in November 2011), these were not incorporated into the online version until too late to do me any good. And, I had delayed the use of this picture to the very end of the year, specifically because I was informed that those changes would be made in November. Again, "the best-laid plans of mice and men!"

I was forced to make a decision about acceptability of the two types of potentially correct answers received, and chose to accept them both as correct for the competition, as any other decision would have penalized participants for a problem not of their making. However, one respondent's submission neglected the capitalization of the species' second name; that answer was precluded from being correct for the competition.

It is time to award two prizes, one each for winner of the quarterly and annual competitions. In the quarterly competition, the award of a year's membership in the Colorado Field Ornithologists (and receipt of its excellent quarterly journal, Colorado Birds), goes to one of the three respondents scoring 11 of 12 quizzes correct: Bryan Guarente, Thomas Hall, and Peter Wilkinson. As they all had the same number of incorrect responses and of bonus points, I had to go through the random-selection process to come up with the quarter's winner. Congratulations, Thomas!

For the annual competition, two Californians tied with 39 correct responses in 2011, Robert McNab and Pam Myers. Pam is a fairly new player at the CFO Photo Quiz and won the first quarterly competition of 2011, while Robert is always amongst the leaders, but has yet to break through to win either a quarterly or annual competition. The first tie-breaker, incorrect responses, was a wash, moving them to the second tie-breaker, bonus points. At 11 bonus points to nine bonus points, Pam Myer wins the 2011 annual CFO Photo Quiz competition! Congratulations, Pam, and I hope to see you at the 2012 CFO convention in Trinidad, Colorado, as your prize for winning is free registration to the convention!

Incorrect species provided as answers:
Northern Jacana - 1

Congratulations to the 26 of 27 getting the quiz correct. Particular congratulations to those (indicated by *) that noted that the AOU had split Common Moorhen and that they knew that the new name (actually, a return to an old name) for the New World representative is now Common Gallinule:
Tyler Bell*
George Cresswell
Peter Wilkinson
Pam Myers*
Robert McNab*
Christian Nunes*
Patty McKelvey
Jeff Thompson
Thomas Hall*
Brenda Beatty
Bob Archer
Megan Miller
Nick Komar
Su Snyder
Aaron Brees*
Kirk Huffstater*
Bryan Guarente*
Josh Parks
Margie Joy
Joe Bens*
Marcel Such*
Joel Such*
Sean Walters*
Margaret Smith
Diane Porter*

Answer: Common Gallinule