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Featured Photo: May/June 2014 Birding

Here are three images that appear in the “Featured Photo” column of the May/June 2014 issue of Birding. We won’t tell you quite yet which of these is actually the main featured photo! You’ll have to read the print version of Birding to find out.

For now, let’s have some fun with these three photos. They’re all gnatcatchers (Polioptila spp.) photographed in the USA. We’re dealing here with three different individuals, although not necessarily three different species.

What species do you think they are?

And why?

Quiz Bird 1

Gnatcatcher #1. Click on image to enlarge.

Quiz Bird 2

Gnatcatcher #2. Click on image to enlarge.

Quiz Bird 3

Gnatcatcher #3. Click on image to enlarge.

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Ted Floyd

Ted Floyd

Editor, Birding magazine at American Birding Association
Ted Floyd is the Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives of the ABA. He is the author of more than 100 magazine and journal articles, and has written four recent books, including an ABA title, the ABA Guide to Birds of Colorado. Floyd is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and state ornithological society meetings, and he has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Mainly, he listens to birds at night.
Ted Floyd

Latest posts by Ted Floyd (see all)

  • Ted Floyd


    Okay, so this one isn’t eliciting nearly as many comments as recent online Featured Photos for Birding magazine. I think it’s too hard. Here, then, are some clues:

    * two of the images are from Colorado
    * one is from southeastern Arizona

    California Gnatcatcher therefore is out of the running. Two of them must be Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (although I hasten to point out that Black-tailed Gnatcatcher is on my short-list for next-up for Colorado). And the other could be a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher or a Black-capped Gnatcatcher–or, of course, a third Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

    Any takers?

    • Patrick Sands

      Hi Ted, Has the May/June issue of Birding mailed yet?

  • Patrick Sands

    The top bird looks like Black-capped Gnatcatcher to my eye. I lived and birded SE Arizona for years and the brown tones on this bird would be my first indicator in the field of this species. Next the longish dark bill in relation to overall headsize. Obviously in the field you would make all effort to see the undertail but, even from this angle (to my eye) you can see that the prevailing undertail color is white.

    Bottom 2 must be your Blue-grays.

  • Sean Walters

    No fair with the hint! The top bird is not what I’m used to. The middle bird appears to be consistent with a western Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. The bottom bird also appears to be a Blue-gray, but it could be an eastern. Not sure on the last one’s subspecies, but it doesn’t quite strike me as a CO mountain individual.

  • Madeline

    The bill on #3 looks smaller … or is that just camera angle? Or might this be a possible Blue-gray X Black-capped? Was one seen in SEAZ in 2011?

  • Versicolor

    California, blue-grey, black-tailed.

    • Patrick Sands

      You san see the undertail on bird #1, not California.

  • Chuck Carlson

    After the hints, I’d have to say that #2 must be a Black-capped. The bill looks too long for a Black-tailed or Blue-gray and therefor #1 and #3 have to be Blue-gray.

  • Mary DeLia

    This has probably been sorted through by now, but I didn’t read all of the comments, so I’ll give it a go. Top bird: Female Black-capped Gnatcatcher – the brown wash on the mantle and dark bill are my reasons for that ID. The middle one is a non-breeding male Black-capped – notice the dark line over its eye and the long, dark bill. The third is the eartern, female Blue-gray. It only has a small patch of white on the wings and the tiny bill.

  • Pingback: Birding Online: May 2014 « ABA Publications()

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