Monday, May 21, 2012

Quiz #450 (2012-2-08) Solution

Click on picture(s) for a larger view.

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:
Ben Coulter
Robert McNab
Margaret Smith
Nick Komar
George Cresswell
Bryan Guarente
Richard Jeffers
Kirk Huffstater
Tyler Bell
Pam Myers
Patty McKelvey
Josh Yoder
Su Snyder
Logan Kahle
Al Guarente
Peter Wilkinson
Chishun Kwong
Sean Walters
Marcel Such
Joel Such

Answer: Horned Grebe