Monday, December 3, 2012
Solution by Tony Leukering
I know the quiz picture is tricky when the number of incorrect species provided as answers approaches the number of correct responses, and this quiz is an excellent example of such. The six incorrect species are of six genera in four families in three orders.
The size of the bird in the image is purposefully quite small in order to eliminate small-scale features visible. That is because most birds are not seen well enough in the field to discern such features, particularly this species. From the wave action, we can make the assumption that the water body is large, which should have us keeping pelagic species in the back, at least, of our minds.
The tubby body and large, rounded head rule out a large number of waterbird options, including some of those ruled out by other features. These other features include the bird's small feet and gray sides, which eliminate loons from consideration. Those same gray sides rule out various petrels and a number of the alcids, including murres, murrelets, and puffins. The unpatterned wings rule out most ducks. Looking closely at the head, we can see two critical features: the white eye and the pale base to the bill (see expanded version of photo quiz, below).
Incorrect species provided as answers:
Fea's Petrel - 1
Harlequin Duck - 1
Ancient Murrelet - 1
Black Scoter - 1
Pacific Loon - 1
Parakeet Auklet - 1
Congratulations to the 6 of 12 getting the quiz correct:
Answer: Cassin's Auklet