Monday, August 1, 2011

Quiz #410 (2011-3-05) Solution

Click on picture(s) for a larger view.

Solution by Margie Joy and Tony Leukering

Margie Joy provided a fairly in-depth answer, so we'll start with her words.

"After attempting to sort out the dramatic pose and determining that the bird is upside down, I can see that this quiz bird shows the bold black-and-white underwing pattern of Swallow-tailed Kite (and a few other birds), with some additional clues as to its ID. Those distinctively-patterned wings are pointed and slightly kinked, with a straight trailing edge. The body and undertail coverts are white. The head is in heavy shadow and looks like it is bent back so that I am looking at the throat and the underside of the bill, which could be short and dark if I’m seeing it right. Or, maybe the head is swiveled around so that I am looking at the top of the bill and the eye. I cannot really tell for sure; messing with it in Photoshop doesn’t really help. Either way, I’m going for a white head with a short dark bill. The tail is black with long outer feathers, leading me to think that it’s forked, although I can’t really see enough of it to be certain. The fork doesn’t look as deep as field guide illustrations (all in normal positions) show, but this could be a young bird or maybe it’s just the perspective. The legs are short and gray, with darker feet. These marks fit with my guess of Swallow-tailed Kite, unless I’m missing something really obvious."

Indeed, Margie, you are not missing anything, and your second thought about the tail is correct: it is spread wide in the severe maneuver that the bird is conducting, thus reducing the apparent deepness of the fork. I took this picture of a Swallow-tailed Kite in West Cape May, Cape May Co., NJ, on 29 April 2011.

Incorrect species provided as answers:

Congratulations to the 19 of 19 getting the quiz correct:
Peter Wilkinson
Thomas Hall
Kirk Huffstater
Al Guarente
Tyler Bell
Adrian Hinkle
Robert McNab
Christian Nunes
George Cresswell
Chuck Carlson
Pam Myers
Margie Joy
Su Snyder
Bryan Guarente
Christopher Hinkle
Diane Porter
Shane Blodgett
Marcel Such
Joel Such

Answer: Swallow-tailed Kite