Monday, May 21, 2012
Solution by Tony Leukering
This week's quiz bird is apparently attempting take-off from the water. Unfortunately, we cannot see enough of the wing pattern to use that to rule out any of the black-and-white grebes other than the two big boys, Western and Clark's. However, our bird's red eye and nearly-all-dark bill eliminates Red-necked (as does the length of that bill), so we're left with a duo of species that send many birders into conniptions. Plumage features in these two species are variable enough that a fair bit of overlap is created, suggesting that we might be better served at looking at structural cues. Indeed, our bird's very flat crown on a head that is wide from front to back and its thick, blunt bill point our way to the solution of the quandary.
I took this picture of a Horned Grebe on 1 March 2009 at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Co., CA. Those with access to back issues of Colorado Birds may want to peruse a fuller treatment of this ID problem in my In The Scope essay in the January 2010 issue.
Incorrect species provided as answers:
Eared Grebe - 2
Red-necked Grebe - 1
Congratulations to the 20 of 23 respondents getting the quiz correct:
Answer: Horned Grebe