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Birding Photo Quiz: June 2019

Don’t blurt out the answer! Pretend you’ve never seen the species of bird in this photo. Or pretend you’re on a bird walk, and you’re showing these birds to someone less expert than you. Less expert, yes, but eager to learn. You’re with someone who wants more than a name—Lesser Zanther or Hoyteenish Shindilly—someone who wants to know why it’s this species of zanther or that species of shindilly.

You start by saying what you see on the birds. What do you notice? Do you go straight for size and shape? Or are you more attracted to color and pattern? Do you focus more on fine details (bill, eyes, feathers) or more on the overall bird (build and behavior)?

In 50 words or less:

“On these birds, I see _____, _____, and _____. I’m struck by _____, _____, and _____. I know it’s a _____ and not a ______ because of _____, _____, and _____.”

This image, by Jim Stasz, comes to us by way of Tony Leukering, one of the birding community’s most prominent pedagogues. Tony knows bird ID, but that’s not the point. Tony also endeavors to understand how birders identify—and misidentify—birds. Tony knows the difference between Lesser and Greater zanthers, between the eastern and western subspecies of the Hoyteenish Shindilly. Again, that’s not the point. Tony knows what to look for—size, shape, color, pattern, feathers, and more—and he delights in helping others learn how to see, recognize, and process those things.

So, let’s all channel our inner Leukering, and share with one another what we see on the birds in this installment of Birding magazine’s “Featured Photo.” Tony’s answer and analysis—much more of the latter than the former!—appears on p. 54 of the print edition of the June 2019 issue of Birding, arriving in ABA members’ mailboxes as we speak.

Don’t say what these birds are! Instead, share with us what you see on them. What marks–feathers and bare parts, but also structure and ecological context–enable you to make the ID? Photo by © Jim Stasz.

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Ted Floyd

Ted Floyd

Editor, Birding magazine at American Birding Association
Ted Floyd is the longtime Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives with the ABA. Ted has written 200+ magazine articles and 5 books, including How to Know the Birds (National Geographic, 2019). He is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and has served on several nonprofit boards. Join Ted at The ABA Blog for his semimonthly spot, “How to Know the Birds,” celebrating common birds and the uncommonly interesting things they do.