A new quiz on backyard birds

Test your “partial cues” recognition skills. Each photo shows only part of a common North American backyard bird. (All photos © David Sibley.)

[mtouchquiz 66]

20 thoughts on “A new quiz on backyard birds”

  1. Alicia C., the brown headed cowbird was a female. I learned to recognize the parasitic things years ago so that I know when to stop putting out birdseed and encouraging the darn things to hang around.

  2. Hi all, I’m glad you enjoyed the quiz – more coming soon. And I welcome the questions about identification.

    The male blackbird is a Red-winged, simply because it was photographed in upstate New York, and Tricolored has essentially never wandered east of California. The eastern subspecies of Red-winged Blackbird has very pale whitish median coverts similar to Tricolored Blackbird, and often causes confusion because the western Red-winged Blackbirds that are most often compared with Tricolored Blackbird have more yellow-buff median coverts. Without knowing where it’s from we can still identify it as a Red-winged by the orange-red color of the lesser coverts, and with a lot of experience you might be able to identify it by bill shape (thinner on Tricolored). Tricolored also has a slightly more glossy black body, but this is hard to judge in photos and this bird is probably not identifiable based on the fragment in the quiz.

    The cowbird can be distinguished from House Finch by a number of features. House Finch should have broader and blurrier streaking on the breast. The two things that really stand out to me are the pattern on the wings and the overall posture of the bird. House Finch would show thin pale edges on all of the wing coverts, with obvious pale tips forming two whitish wingbars, and would not show the stripe of pale-edged primaries at the lower edge of the folded wing. And House Finch would rarely be seen in this pose – standing “on tiptoes” with long legs – but this is typical of cowbirds and blackbirds as they walk through grass.

    Hope this helps, and thanks again for the comments and questions

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