Jory Langner has contributed some sterling guest posts in the past on 10,000 Birds, sharing how it feels to be born again as a birder and how much effort goes into a New York State Big Year. Fresh off his star turn as a founding member of the 10,000 Birds Butcher Birders, he’s back to offer a truly evil Avian ID Quiz…

You’ve read about the Montezuma Muckrace from Mike and Corey, but there is at least one event that they omitted from their blogs, and that was the Sunday morning surprise quiz. We were tired, we were groggy, and all birded out. We were sitting around the table having breakfast (thanks Mike!). Laying about were a few bird books that I hadn’t used before. In an attempt to get interested in these books and sharpen my skills, which are “middling” at best, I picked up one and started browsing.

From the first book, I read a sentence out loud from the species accounts of a bird that created some amount of hilarity for us in the Muckrace. I think the quote was, “probes deeply … often belly-deep.”

Then I asked Mike, Corey and Will to guess the species, which they couldn’t. I picked up another book, found that same species and read a key sentence from there, “rare on the Pacific coast.”

My job turned out to be to give enough information to keep the game interesting without giving it away … Stilt Sandpiper.

From there, this bird quiz was born. Bird after bird, Mike, Corey, and Will surprised me how much they knew and how few clues they needed to guess the correct species.

So here now is a written version of this same ID quiz (North American version) based on our post-Muckrace experience. Try to guess the bird using the fewest clues. The answer, including book references, will be given this Saturday:

  1. Locally common in spring in the Great Plains.
  2. No subspecies.
  3. Worldwide population less than 200,000.
  4. All birds show a distinct whitish eyebrow that, in combination with the darker crown, give them a capped appearance.
  5. Posture is erect, not slouched. Movements are deliberate, head held up.
  6. Long distance migrant, migrates both by day and by night.
  7. Was split from another species in the 1990’s.
  8. During migration, find them in sod farms, plowed fields, pastures, prairie.

Good luck.

Written by Jory
Jory's first field guide-identified bird was a Northern Cardinal. This turned out to be his gateway drug into birding. In 2007 Jory became the least accomplished birder to see 300 birds in New York State in one year. He has birded the world over but maintains his birding "beginner mind", of which he is inordinately proud. Just ask him. Jory is the 10,000 Birds Avian Quizmaster, coming up with ever more diabolical ways to stump his legion of devoted fans. He lives with his wife and the possessions of his children just outside of Albany NY.