Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bird Quiz #3- Crossley Guide Edition

I just got my copy of the new Crossley ID Guide, which I really like, and decided to do something a bit different for this week's quiz.

It is based on the birding game in which one person reads lines out of a field guide and the other birders try to guess the bird. Generally this is done with the Sibley Guide, but it seems like it would be even more fun with the Crossley Guide, which has much more descriptive and colorful text (and much more text in general). Of course, the colorful plates are the obvious thing when you look at the guide, but the text is great too. There are five birds in this quiz, each with excerpts from the description in the guide.

Have fun, and leave your guesses in the comments. If necessary, I will add new clues later in the week.

1) A real tank...killer-like thick bill...overall impression is clean and bold...if in doubt, look at that bill...younger birds' contrasting plumage is neat and fairly distinctive.

2) Fluttering "butterfly-like"...often partially opens wings and spreads tail... then it's off again... shape and color pattern make this an easy bird to id overhead.

3)Fairly common breeder, scarcer in east... has a shuffling gait... seems to walk with feet back and chest thrust forward... commonly sings from barbed wire fences... large and particularly fat... distinctive head pattern.

4)Seems to embrace bad weather...Male is a real stunner...appears gentle...often seen standing on rocks...stubby bill on small head.

5) Simply beautiful; the epitome of grace (it would have been at home in the movie 'Avatar'). Flies just above the treeline, never in a hurry, but deceptively fast. Loves warm weather.


  1. WOW. This is an interesting quiz, and hard too. Let' see...
    1. Ferruginous hawk (they are really like a tank... thick billed and large.)
    2. American Kestrel (hard, but Kestrels flutter and are pretty distinctive.)
    3. Definitely the hardest, I can't even think of a bird where all those clues match up. The best I can say is, maybe a Ring-necked Pheasant? I'm sure I'm wrong though.
    4. This is a way out there bird, but how about a Whiskered Auklet?
    5. Swallow-tailed Kite (It's like an Angel)

    - Brendan

  2. You got one right, which is pretty good given how vague the descriptions are. Anyone else want to take a shot?- I'm not going to say which is right.


  3. Love your idea of this. Gets people to really think about the essence of the birds.

  4. I am guessing for #3 that it is a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. (maybe some Kingbird though).

  5. Richard Crossley- Thanks! I love the guide. Great work.

    Anonymous- Sorry, not a STFL or kingbird. Good guess based on the range and singing from a wire, but the walking behavior doesn't fit, and they are fairly slim, not fat. #3 is definitely the hardest.

    I'll put up a few more clues in a day or two.


  6. I've sort of neglected this post, sorry, but I'll put up the answers in case anyone is still waiting for them.
    Bird #1 is a Great Black-backed Gull, a large, bulky, clean, bold bird with a large bill.
    #2 is an American Redstart. The 'butterfly-like' flight is a frequently noted behavioral point, and the tail pattern is indeed distinctive during morning flight.
    #3 is the most difficult. The best clue is the part about it singing from barbed wire. From this you could determine that it is some sort of grassland songbird, which indeed it is- Vesper Sparrow.
    #4 is a Harlequin Duck- the males are brilliantly colored, they often stand on rocks, and are often seen in rough surf in the cold.
    #5 is, as Brendan said, a Swallow-tailed Kite, and Crossley's description of their flight is very accurate in depicting their grace and speed.

    Good Birding,