Archive for the 'Quiz' Category

Oct 14 2014

Quiz: Which Ones Are Ungulates?

Published by under Mammals,Quiz

Deer eats snow (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

While writing about elk, I wanted to use the word ungulate so I looked up how to spell it.  I learned more than I bargained for … and ultimately didn’t use the word.

Ungulates are mammals with hooves, right?  Well, some are obvious, some are not.  Here’s a quiz to test your knowledge.

Which of these animals are ungulates?

A.  Deer (photo above):

B.  Horse:
Nokota horses (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

C.  Llama
Llama (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

D. Leopard:
Leopard on a tree (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

E. Hippopotamus:
Hippopotamus (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

F. Porpoise:
Harbor porpoise (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

 

Leave a comment with your answer.

If you’re stumped, I’ll post the answer in the comments later.

Can’t wait for the answer?  Click here. No cheating!

 

p.s. See the comments for an explanation about the oddest ungulates.

(All photos from Wikimedia Commons. Click the image to see the original.)

7 responses so far

Aug 18 2014

Last Month Of Summer

Published by under Migration,Quiz

Common nighthawk closeup (photo by Dan Arndt)

August. The last month of summer.  School starts next week in Pittsburgh.

This bird knows summer is almost over.  By the end of the month he’ll leave for South America.

Do you know who he is?  Do you know why he leaves so soon?

 

(photo by Dan Arndt, Creative Commons license on Flickr.  Click on the image to see the original.  Dan lives in Calgary and writes for two blogs: Birds Calgary and Bird Canada.)

p.s. Check the comments for the answer.

4 responses so far

Jul 08 2014

Detective Work

Published by under Plants,Quiz

Perfoliate, alternate, entire (photo by Kate St. John)

Today we’ll have a plant identification quiz.  I have an answer but you may have a better one.

I found this plant on June 29 at Dead Man’s Hollow in Allegheny County.   The leaves are so distinctive that its identity begs for some detective work.  Here are the clues I gathered:

Leaves:

  • alternate on the stem,
  • edges are entire (not toothed),
  • leaves are perfoliate.  (The stem perforates the leaves, a very cool feature.)
  • bottom leaves are larger than the violet leaves nearby.

The plant had no flowers and no buds.  Instead it had developing fruits which gave me clues about the flowers.  Here are two photos of the fruits.

Developing fruit, 3-sided with 6 sections (photo by Kate St. John)

 

Developing fruit, 3-sided with 6 sections (photo by Kate St. John)

The fruits are:

  • on stems that sprout from perfoliate spots on the leaves
  • three sided with a seam in the middle of each side.  Does this mean the flower was three-petaled or six-petaled?
  • still maturing?  Or are they in their final form?

I looked up “six petals with alternate, entire leaves” in my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and found a familiar spring wildflower with perfoliate leaves.

However, I am not completely satisfied with my identification.  I have never seen “my plant” arc horizontally like this when it’s blooming and the fruits in the illustration look different.  Is my Newcomb’s Guide missing a species?  Have I never noticed that the plant “lies down” in the summer?  Are the fruits going to match the illustration when they mature in a few weeks?

So here’s the quiz:  What plant is this?

Leave a comment with your answer.  I’ll post my guess after I’ve heard from you.

UPDATE:  See the Comments for the answer and a link to the flowering version of this plant.

 

(photos by Kate St. John)

10 responses so far

Jun 04 2014

What Made This Tree Fall Over?

Published by under Quiz,Schenley Park,Trees

Black cherry tree toppled at Schenley Park, 30 May 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)

When I see a tree snapped in half like this I have to ask: What made this tree fall over?

I did some detective work but I don’t know the answer yet.  Maybe you can help.  Here are the clues:

  • The tree is a black cherry (Prunus serotina)
  • It was alive when it fell.  It grew leaves this spring so the structural weakness wasn’t evident until the tree broke.
  • This is the only broken tree at this location in Schenley Park.  Even if a strong wind snapped the trunk it wasn’t strong enough to damage other trees.
  • The trunk is not hollow inside the break though there are air gaps between the light outer wood and dark inner core.
  • There’s a white flaky substance inside the trunk that coats the light wood layers.  Is it a fungus?
  • Did the white stuff weaken the trunk?  Is it responsible for the break?

The trunk isn’t hollow, but…
Black cherry break, 30 May 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)

Here’s a close look at the white flaky fungus.  It reminds me of the white correction tape I use on paper.
White flaky fungus. What is it? (photo by Kate St. John)

Do any of you know what this is?  Is it the reason the tree fell over?

Leave a comment with your answer.

Thanks!

(photos by Kate St. John)

UPDATE on June 5 with the ANSWER!   It’s a species of Armillaria or honey fungus.  (See Maureen Hobma’s comment below.)   Well, I feel a little dumb.  I wrote about Armillaria on 16 January 2014 because I was fascinated that it’s the largest living organism.  I even included a photo of the white sheets inside the heartwood but, having never seen the white sheets before, I did not remember them.  Until now I had only seen the black rope-y strands and the honey mushrooms so that’s all I knew of Armillaria.  The white sheets are the newer growth, the mycelium, and can be bio-luminescent!   I learn something new every day.

10 responses so far

Apr 02 2014

The Sound Of A Lonesome Dove

Published by under Quiz,Vocalizations

This morning I heard the sound of a lonesome dove.

When seeking a mate male mourning doves call like the ones in this video.  Those who’ve found true love don’t need to sing because the cooing is a solicitation call, not a territorial defense.

Unmated males perch-coo from the heights as loudly as they can, “Ladies, I’m available.”  It’s amazingly loud considering they don’t even open their mouths.  A few have already begun calling in my neighborhood but the peak time will be late April through June.

Males also use flap-glide flight to attract female attention.  Taking off with exaggerated wing-claps, they fly up above the trees and rooftops, then spiral down with stiff wings held slightly below their bodies.  From a distance their silhouettes resemble kestrels or sharp-shinned hawks.  They’ve fooled me more than once. Here’s my attempt at what they look like, gliding from left to right:

Mourning dove flag-glide flight (drawing by Kate St. John)
Today sunrise is at 6:49am so a lot of us are awake before the perch-cooing begins, but lonesome doves can be annoying in June when they start calling at 5:00am.

 

Quiz!  Test your “birding by ear” skills with this video.  In addition to the mourning dove there are at least seven other species singing in the background.  Who are they?

 

(video by Carl Gerhardt, musicofnature.org via YouTube. Silhouette drawing by Kate St. John)

8 responses so far

Feb 13 2014

Great Backyard Bird Count Starts Tomorrow

Published by under Books & Events,Quiz

American goldfinches at the feeder (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

Fill your feeders and get ready for the bird count you can do in your pajamas.

For four days — tomorrow February 14 through Monday February 17 — you can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count from the comfort of your home.  All you need to do is count birds for at least 15 minutes, keep track of the highest number of each species you see, and record your count on eBird (instructions here).  If you take pictures, submit them to the GBBC Photo Contest.

Join with others across the continent in this weekend science project.  Your data will show trends in winter bird populations across North America as you can see in these statistics from prior years.

Don’t want to stay indoors?  You can count birds anywhere or join others at one of these local events. (Scroll down for the many events in Pennsylvania.)  Here’s how to participate no matter where you choose to count.

Meanwhile, you can practice counting with this photo by Marcy Cunkelman.  What species and how many birds are in the picture?

 

(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

2 responses so far

Jan 14 2014

Inca Birds

Published by under Quiz

Inca tern at the National Aviary (photo by Shawn Collins)

My blog about the pyramid of Inca doves got me thinking of birds named for the Incan people.   How many of these names exist?

A search found 13 birds with “Inca” in their English names…

Hummingbirds:

Black Inca Coeligena prunellei
Bronzy Inca Coeligena coeligena
Brown Inca Coeligena wilsoni
Collared Inca Coeligena torquata

Inca-finches:

Buff-bridled Inca-finch Incaspiza laeta
Great Inca-finch Incaspiza pulchra
Grey-winged Inca-finch Incaspiza ortizi
Little Inca-finch Incaspiza watkinsi
Rufous-backed Inca-finch Incaspiza personata

Other species:

Inca Dove Columbina inca
Inca Flycatcher Leptopogon taczanowskii
Inca Tern Larosterna inca
Inca Wren Thryothorus eisenmanni

…and prompted two quiz questions:

  1. All but one of these species is native to South America.  Which bird doesn’t live in the land of the Incas?
  2. Can you think of birds named for other native American tribes or empires?  I can think of only one.

 

(photo of an Inca tern at the National Aviary by Shawn Collins)

3 responses so far

Dec 18 2013

Tracks Count

Published by under Quiz

Bird footprints in the snow (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

‘Tis the season for Christmas Bird Counts and snow.

During the Christmas Bird Count volunteers tally the number of birds by species in each 15-mile diameter circle.

Did you know that you can count a bird if you find its fresh footprints?  The tracks tell you the bird was here recently. But what bird?

Here’s a quiz to test your skill.  Identify the species that made these tracks:

(#1) In the photo above the tracks are about 2″ to 3″ long and 4″ apart and were made in a city.  What bird made them?

(#2) In the photo below the footprints are 6″ to 7″ long in a rural backyard in Saxonburg, PA

Bird tracks in snow, Saxonburg, PA

 

and (#3) below, from the Ode Street Tribune blog, are footprints about 5″ long in a city park near a river.

Bird footprints in the snow, Arlington VA (photo from Ode Treet Tribune blog)

 

Test your skill.  Leave a comment with your answer.

 

(photos: top and middle footprint photos are from Wikimedia Commons. Last photo is from the Ode Street Tribune blog. Click on each image to see the original … and it will give you the answer to the bird’s identity.)

p.s.  Click here for Christmas Bird Count information from Audubon.org.

9 responses so far

Sep 19 2013

Fancy Feet

Published by under Bird Anatomy,Quiz

Snowy egret feet (photo by Chuck Tague)

Monday’s blog about identifying white wading birds got me thinking about snowy egrets’ black legs and fancy yellow feet.  Wow!

Are there other birds in North America whose legs and feet are different colors?

The immature blackpoll warbler has them.  Adult blackpolls have bright orange-yellow legs and feet but the youngsters have black legs.  Their contrasting feet are a good identification tip during fall migration.  This one is wearing orange slippers.
Immature Blackpoll warbler (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

 

Beyond the blackpoll I was stumped.  I searched my field guide page by page and discovered that golden-crowned kinglets have dark legs and pale yellow feet.  Who knew?  I never looked at their feet before.
Golden-crowned kinglet (photo by Shawn Collins)

 

Do any other North American birds have fancy feet?  I don’t think so, but maybe you know of one.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with this thought …

Have you ever seen a Eurasian Coot?
Eurasian coot (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

 

(photo credits:  Snowy egret feet by Chuck Tague, immature blackpoll warbler by Marcy Cunkelman, golden-crowned kinglet by Shawn Collins, Eurasian coot from Wikimedia Commons)

2 responses so far

Sep 09 2013

Which Cone Is Wetter?

Published by under Plants,Quiz

Wet and dry pine cones, head on (photo by Kate St. John)

While writing about dripping pine cones I learned that mature cones open and close many times and can do so for many years.

They do this in response to wetness — even after they release their seeds, even after they’ve fallen from the tree.  In fact the open/closed status of fallen cones is a simple indication of wildfire risk because it shows the dryness of the forest floor.

So what does a wet cone look like?  Can you tell which one is wet and which is dry, above?

Here’s a view of the tail end.

Tail end of wet and dry white pine cones (photo by Kate St. John)

And here’s an overhead view.

Wet and dry white pine cones side by side (photo by Kate St. John)

 

By now you’ve probably guessed the answer so you’re ready to play Cone In A Bottle.

Put the closed cone in a bottle and wait for it to open.  If you want to get the cone out, do you add water or remove it?

The answer is in the comments below.

(photos by Kate St. John)

5 responses so far

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