Nikon Monarch 7

aba events

Birding Photo Quiz: October 2017

The “Featured Photo” in the October 2017 Birding, arriving soon in ABA members’ mailboxes, prompts three questions:

1. What the heck is this?

2. If you have a general idea, why is it this one and not that one?

3. Even if you know exactly which one it is (it’s this one, not that one), why does the bird look this way?

This striking bird was photographed by Mia McPherson. A detailed analysis of this bird (and others like it), by Peter Pyle and McPherson, appears in the October 2017 issue of Birding.


The usual request: Please let us know your reasoning. If you think it’s a Thayer’s Gull, please let us know how you got to “gull” in the first place.

Answers forthcoming, but, first, let’s have some fun together with this one!



The following two tabs change content below.
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)

  • John Gluth

    Eared Grebe, melanin-challenged form. 😉
    ID based on structure – Subtly upturned bill, longer and more sharply pointed than is typical of Horned Grebe (HOGR); forehead slopes gradually up from base of bill, merging seamlessly with peak of crown; crown feathers dramatically peaked above/just behind eye, contra HOGR where peak is well behind eye; neck slightly longer and slimmer relative to HOGR.

  • Terry Bronson

    Although the peaked head strongly suggests Eared Grebe, the fairly substantial bill looks too bulky and long. Horned Grebe looks better to me, though the peaked head seems awry. As for the color, this might be one of those bleached birds from Lake Mono in California or a similar salty lake.

    Except for the peaked head, I think a case could also be made for a very young Western or Clark’s Grebe, where the bill is similar to the bird in the photo, not being completely grown. Such birds are apparently pale gray and white and have not yet acquired their darker adult plumage.

  • James Muller

    Looks like a Horned Grebe, rather than an Eared Grebe. The bill and head look larger than Eared, and the tip of the bill is white. Even on a leucistic bird, that white bill tip should be diagnostic.

  • Pingback: Another Birding Photo Quiz: October 2017 « ABA Blog()

  • Pingback: Birding Online: October 2017 « ABA Publications()

American Birding Podcast
Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
Read More »

Recent Comments




ABA's FREE Birder's Guide

If you live nearby, or are travelling in the area, come visit the ABA Headquarters in Delaware City.

Beginning this spring we will be having bird walks, heron watches and evening cruises, right from our front porch! Click here to view the full calender, and register for events >>

via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Open Mic: Rocky Mountain Encounter at Camp Colorado December 9, 2017 5:50
    From American Dippers to White-tailed Ptarmigan to new friends and new birding skills, a young birder shares her experience at 2017 Camp Colorado. […]
  • Open Mic: Endemics, Research, and Adventure on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula December 2, 2017 9:23
    As we flew through a gap in the lush, green mountains to land on a thin airstrip, I anticipated the birding and research I was about to experience on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, the world’s most bio-intense area. […]
  • The Warbler Guide Comes to Android: A Review November 26, 2017 3:08
    Many people would say we are currently in the golden age of bird books. As we learn more and more about birds, and that information becomes more and more accessible, a huge number of bird books have been published. We have whole books dedicated to molt, tricky identifications in the Western Palearctic, the birdlife of […]

Follow ABA on Twitter