January Bird Quiz

With the start of a new year, I thought I might do something a little different with the monthly quiz. No, I’m not going to tell you what it is. You’ll figure it out eventually!

This year the photos won’t be cropped. Instead, I’ll start you out with an easy one. This bird was photographed in Arizona in April. Can you identify it? The answer appears next Monday.

01 Tucson-AZ_LAH_4467

Footsies

Great Egret feet_HomosassaSP-FL_LAH_8290

When out in the field identifying birds, how often do we look at the feet? For me, at least, the bird’s feet may be the last thing I take note of—if I can see them at all. Wading and swimming birds keep their feet under water and out of sight, and mind. Perched birds’ feet are often hidden in the foliage, or too small to see from a distance. Yet, bird feet can provide a clue, not just to a bird’s identity, but also to its habitat, diet, and general lifestyle.

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Wings

One of the delights of living near the US Air Force Academy is watching the various ways the cadets get into the air. There are the small training planes, the gliders, and the air mattress-like parachutes. Every so often, most often during football season and at graduation, we’re treated to an old bomber or two. And then there are the incredible Thunderbirds, whose aerial display comes right over our house. What a view!

Of course, you can immediately tell when the Thunderbirds are in town—you can hear their screaming engines echoing off the Front Range mountainsides. (If you want to actually see the jet, look far ahead of the point  where the sound seems to be originating.) But let’s eliminate the sound for a moment. How can you identify a single-engine prop plane from a glider from a parachute from a jet? Easy—look at the shape of the wing.

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