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The Kaufman Challenge: Redux

Kenn Kaufman was asked in a Birding interview, “If you could have one wish to improve our world, what would it be?”

His answer: “My wish is that every person might learn to recognize fifty species of plants and animals native to his or her own region. That may not sound like much, but I’m convinced that it would profoundly change each person’s sense of values, each person’s sense of responsibility to the ecosystems that support all of our fellow creatures. That basic level of natural history could revolutionize our view of humanity’s place in the world. Maybe I’m just a dreamer, but I’m going to go on trying to communicate that basic appreciation of nature to everyone.”

Good stuff. Serious stuff. Important stuff. In so many of my interactions with normal people in the real world, I try to apply the Kaufman challenge.

Now I hope the following isn’t flippant, but have you ever thought of applying the Kaufman challenge to birder identification? That’s right, birder ID. Check out this image, adapted from the April 2015 issue of Birding:

Click on the image to enlarge. Answers appear in the print and online versions of the April 2015 issue of Birding magazine.

Click on the image to enlarge. The answers to this “quiz” appear in the print and online versions of the April 2015 issue of Birding magazine.

The answers to this “quiz” appear in the April 2015 issue of Birding. Just open up to p. 24, and there they are. But wait a minute! You’re online right now. The print version of the April issue may or may not be at your fingertips. If it is not, you can still get the whole issue online. Here’s a direct link to the page with the answers to the birder ID quiz:

But how does one know to go to that link? It’s a fair question. Let’s back up a step. Two steps actually. Just go straight to the “landing page” for all the online content in Birding:

That’s the page to bookmark. That’s the one that will get you started in any online issue of Birding. Find the cover you like, then start reading.  You can just flip through the magazine, or you can go to the Table of Contents and find the entry–and live link–to the article or feature you want. This crude schematic shows how:

This is a static image. It isn't live. Don't really click here where it says "click here." But when you get to that page at image at, just go through the steps shown on the image.

This is a static image. It isn’t live. Don’t really click here where it says “click here.” But when you get to that page at image at, just go through the steps shown on the image.

If you’re having any trouble getting Birding online, please contact me directly. I’m tfloyd “at” aba “dot” org.

Shifting gears a bit, I’m pleased to report that we’re almost there with the June 2015 Birding. If I’m doing the math right, this will be “my” 65th issue of Birding. And I have to say, this issue, possibly more than any other in my tenure, stands out for truly reflecting the needs and wants, the delights and dilemmas, the voice and vision, of the ABA membership. A sampling of content:


This is a low-resolution mockup of the cover of the June 2015 Birding.

  • Hooded Crane in the ABA Area. Was the bird (or birds) in the ABA Area a few years ago a wild vagrant or an escape from captivity? And what are the consequences for listing?
  • Heard-only birds. They count! They’ve counted for a long time. But many ABA members elect not to count heard-only birds. Why is that?
  • Eye strain, double vision, migraines, and more. Anybody who’s birded long enough has experienced some of this stuff. Is it the fault of your optics? Or is it your eyes? An article provides some tips that might great greatly improve your birding experience–and protect your eyesight.
  • Also, your listing milestones, an intriguing problem with field ID of Pomarine Jaegers, a possible redpoll lump, the surprising discovery of two populations of Island Scrub-Jays, and a Birding Interview with one of the ABA’s great heroes. (She’s a heroine, I suppose.)
  • Oh, and a Bird of the Year Photo Salon that will knock your socks off.

To join the ABA and get Birding, Birder’s Guide, and a lot more, click here:

Hooded Crane. Watercolor on paper by © Rachel Rothberg. Young birder Rachel Rothberg has participated in ABA camps, contributed to ABA publications, and is active online with the ABA. ABA members' photos and art are extensively featured in the June 2015 Birding.

Hooded Crane. Watercolor on paper by © Rachel Rothberg. Young birder Rachel Rothberg has participated in ABA camps, contributed to ABA publications, and is active online with the ABA. ABA members’ photos and art are extensively featured in the June 2015 Birding.


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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

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  • cestma

    Looks like a great issue!
    I’m finding it hard to flip back & forth between the first 2 pages of the quiz and the answer key, though. Look forward to getting my hard copy with which it’ll be much easier. 😉

    • Ted Floyd

      Cestma, you should have your hard copy by now.. Indeed, you should have gotten it a while back. We were a bit late with the April issue, but not THAT late… 🙂

  • Alan Wormington

    The really big challenge here is to identify even ONE Canadian amongst these 52 faces.
    I **think** Canada is part of the ABA area — Or is it?

  • Cameron

    I find it funny that one of your publications talks about diversity in birding, but this birder “quiz” in your other publication is overwhelmingly white and male.

    • Michael Retter

      Make sure you read the final article in that other publication. It seems quite relevant right now.

      • Cameron

        I stand by my “diversity shaming”. There is a difference between a snapshot from an event and highlighting the who’s who of birding. There are certainly more prominent women that could have been in that quiz. While there are certainly fewer races found regularly in North American birding, highlighting the few when you can will only encourage more diversity.

        • David Hartley

          The quiz is a compilation of birders who have been interviewed by Birding magazine over an eight year period. The series is ongoing. If you have suggestions for future interviews, please send them to Ted Floyd @ (tfloyd “at” aba “dot” org).

        • Ted Floyd

          Women featured in this “quiz” include Amy Hooper, Lisa White, Donna Dittmann, Jessie Barry, Julie Zickefoose, Sophie Webb, Laura Erickson, Ellie Cohen, Ioana Seritan, Shelly Plante, and Daryl Hannah. Jennie Duberstein is interviewed in the current (June 2015) issue of Birding, and Ali Sheehey will be interviewed later this year in Birding.

          The Lazuli Bunting cover is by Marie Read, and the Hooded Crane painting is by Rachel Rothberg. Birding’s Associate Editor is Ioana Seritan. Diana Doyle is Tools of the Trade columnist. Etc.

          As to “race” (not to mention ethnicity), I’m wary of going there, but I am aware that several of the interviewees self-identify as black, hispanic, etc. And we have interviewees from four continents.

          I’m cool with having a conversation about gender and race, but you lost me with “shaming.”

    • Alan Wormington

      And if I am not mistaken, not one of the 52 faces belongs to a Canadian. And yet Canada certainly forms a major portion of the ABA Area.

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Recent Comments

  • Nate, in Rare Bird Alert: October 13, 2017... { That's fair about the weather timing. I recall the observers saying something about Hurricane Nate being involved, but how much is not clear. As to... }
  • Gary Bloomfield, in Birding with a Tricorder... { Great essay, Ted! Feel sorry for the guy in the photo who's wearing a red shirt, though. }
  • Steve Shultz, in Rare Bird Alert: October 13, 2017... { I believe the NC swift was seen on Saturday, October 7 (unless the date indicated by the observer on the photo was incorrect). Nate did... }
  • Rick Wright, in #ABArare - Yellow-breasted Bunting - Newfoundland & Labrador... { What a great bird! Sadly topical: }
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