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Photo Quiz: October 2016 Birding

The Featured Photo in the October 2016 Birding depicts not one… not two… but… well, a whole lotta sandpipers in flight. What are they all? If it helps (hint: yes, it helps!), the image is from Texas in spring.

Photo by © Tom Johnson.

Photo by © Tom Johnson. Click on image to enlarge

How about another hint? How about a close-up of those orangey birds with the silvery under-wings? Here goes:


Did you know about this field mark? In his analysis of the Featured Photo, Tom Johnson describes the field mark indicated by the arrows. Tom also discusses how we make use of such field marks more generally: They can contribute to our “impression” of a bird’s “gestalt,” but field marks like this one are most useful if we understand the actual physiology that we’re looking at.

For sure, read Tom’s analysis in the October Birding, arriving in ABA members’ mailboxes right now. But first, let’s go back to the original question: What are these birds, and–as always–how do you know?

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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)

  • DEBirder

    These birds are mostly Long-billed Dowitchers, separated from Short-billed by the underwing pattern. Also, while I can’t say for sure, having never been to TX, I believe that LBDO is the more expected species there in Spring. I saw a few that looked okay for SBDO, but I’m not sure. There is a Wilson’s Phalarope in the upper left, and what I believe is a Dunlin in the center right of the photo.

    • Adam Roesch

      Plus an Osprey (or maybe some Kite?), blurry in the background, lower right.

      • Ted Floyd

        Good one! I hadn’t noticed that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Kevin T. Karlson

      On the coast of Texas in spring, Short-billed Dowitcher is by far much more numerous than Long-billed Dowitcher, with a small number of Long-bills in locations along the coast that have fresh water ponds or mixed fresh/salt water habitats. However, in inland locations, even a short distance from the coast, Long-billed is by far the default dowitcher. When you get fresh water locations, or brackish tidal locations adjacent to the coast, or within a mile or so from the coast, you can get a wonderful mix of both species. And during migration with strong winds or storms, anything can happen along the coast, with both species represented in uncharacteristic habitats for one of the species.

  • Pingback: Birding Online: October 2016 « ABA Publications()

  • Kevin T. Karlson

    We pointed out that field mark with photos in The Shorebird Guide in 2006, and it works most of the time if you can see it clearly. Sometimes the feathers are a bit disturbed in this area and the white feathering is not clearly visible, but only in rare occasions.

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