This quiz might have been too hard.  My father even mentioned that he agreed with Jack, the first guesser in this near-impossible-to-answer quiz when Jack typed “The challenge here is not to ID the first bird, but to find it!”  So those who guessed incorrectly should feel good despite their wrongness that they managed to find the bird on which they based their guess.  Despite the fact that only Nate of The Drinking Bird managed to get one right I will still reveal the answers, with thanks to Jack and Will for at least attempting to guess the birds correctly.

First, the original quiz picture for bird number one.  Impossible to identify, right?  Wrong!

Diabolical Confusing Fall Warbler #1

Another picture of the same bird, taken moments after the picture above, reveals that the bird is, as Nate guessed, a Chestnut-sided Warbler (to be more exact, a first-fall female).  Oddly, Jack guessed first-fall female chestnut-sided for the second bird, so we could be charitable and say he just got the pictures reversed somehow, but this is a diabolical ID quiz so we won’t.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

As for the second shot, which featured a washed-out, stubby, undertail, well, no one managed to properly identify this bird.  I think the undertails of wood-warblers might be the most underutilized field mark available (and I realize how deeply I’ve sunk into the birding abyss when I can type a sentence like that and actually mean it!).  Granted, the picture didn’t show enough detail for a definitive identification, but I thought someone would have come up with the correct answer…but first here is the original shot.

Diabolical Confusing Fall Warbler 2

The same bird is below, again a couple of seconds later, and is revealed as a Northern Parula, most likely a fall-plumaged female but maybe a first-fall male.  Whether in the field or on the computer screen it is difficult to tell the extent of the reddish coloration that overlays the yellow on the breast of the bird.  I’m sure that those who guessed at this one weren’t helped by the fact that the legs of the bird appeared black in the quiz picture rather than the pinkish coloration expected in a parula (something I’ll be sure to think of and try to eliminate should I do another quiz so difficult).

Northern Parula

Hopefully this quiz was diabolical enough for you…

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.