Monday, February 14, 2011

Quiz #386 (2011-1-07) Solution

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Answer by Tony Leukering

Tyler Bell
"Ah, my favorite trap, capitalization and hyphenation!"

Peter Wilkinson
"Test of capitalisation and hyphenation or what? As well as ID, of course. Ah well, 1 in 3 chance, I guess."

These responses were similar to that received for a previous multi-hyphen quiz-subject name in the history of the Mr. Bill Mystery Quiz. And, the identification difficulty was not to be undervalued! Colorado residents and members of CFO had a distinct advantage; being able to regularly study rosy-finches in the first place and receiving the journal Colorado Birds in the second. The value of the second lies in the In The Scope column that I wrote on odd Brown-capped Rosy-Finch males a few issues back. Both Black and Gray-crowned rosy-finches have well-demarcated gray crowns contrasting sharply with both the black forehead and the brown face (except in Hepburn's Gray-crowneds in which the face, too, is gray and contrasts sharply with the brown throat). Our quiz bird's extensive pink on the underparts makes for an excellent field mark ruling out the two non-Colorado-breeding species, in addition to the aforementioned crown contrast -- or rather, lack thereof. The odd male Brown-cappeds have grayer crowns than is typical, but they still don't contrast sharply, rather grading into and out of the brown of most of the rest of the head.

Multiple respondents noted that the bird had a black bill, thus was in breeding condition. Granted, some of those noted the condition as in 'breeding plumage.' but since these species lack an alternate plumage, once they molt into adult plumage, they're always in 'breeding plumage;' it's just more or less worn. Because the wings are extensively pink, we can age the quiz bird as an adult and know that it is in basic plumage (rather than juvenal plumage or formative plumage). As I took the picture of this adult male Brown-capped Rosy-Finch on 12 March 2006 (above Estes Park, Larimer Co., CO), it is, indeed, in breeding condition, despite that conditions up there above treeline where they breed won't ameliorate for a few months or so. This individual had been banded by Scott Rashid at his home in Estes Park some 1000 feet or so below the photo location. That photo location is one of the locations at which Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory staff and cooperators are color-banding rosy-finches in order to study their movements and longevity.

Two respondents got caught by the name trap, one capitalizing the first 'c,' the other omitting the second hyphen; both responses were precluded from being correct for the competition. It was gratifying that the number of respondents this week climbed to the 30 level in the first time in quite a while. Finally, the leader board tells me that Adrian Hinkle, Pam Myers, and Joel Such sit atop it with 7-of-7 scores.

Incorrect species provided as answers:
Black Rosy-Finch - 3
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch - 2

Congratulations to the 25 of 30 getting the quiz correct:
Tyler Bell
Pam Myers
Jim Beatty
Nick Komar
Claire Mix
Ben Coulter
Ira Sanders
Tammy Sanders
Devich Farbotnik
Peter Wilkinson
George Cresswell
Robert McNab
Christian Nunes
Chuck Carlson
Barbara Deneen
Joseph Brown
Margie Joy
Christopher Hinkle
Adrian Hinkle
Christopher Neuman
Marcel Such
Su Snyder
Matt Bristol
Joel Such
Chishun Kwong

Answer: Brown-capped Rosy-Finch