Monday, August 1, 2011
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:
Answer: Swallow-tailed Kite