Archive for the 'Quiz' Category

Feb 03 2012

Friday Quiz: Bottoms Up

Published by under Quiz

Charlie Hickey found these ducks in Delaware last month.

Can you identify them with their bottoms up?

Leave a comment with your answer.

(photo by Charlie Hickey)

8 responses so far

Jan 27 2012

Learn a Bird, Teach a Computer

Published by under Quiz

When you play today’s “quiz” you’ll be teaching a computer how to think.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is building a new interactive bird identification tool and they need your help.  In yesterday’s eNewsletter they wrote:

To help you identify birds online, the Cornell Lab’s web team is building a new tool called “Merlin.” Merlin will use artificial intelligence to ask questions and provide suggestions to help you identify what you saw. First, though, Merlin needs to know how people observe and describe birds. Help populate Merlin’s “brain” by trying Mark My Bird, an online activity that asks 18 questions about a species. Play as often as you like to help us build Merlin faster!

Mark My Bird looks like a quiz but it’s actually gathering data for Merlin’s brain.  It will show you a photo of a mystery bird but don’t worry, it’s going to identify that bird for you.  All you have to do is choose the bird’s group (or say Not Sure), then click on the bird’s body parts and checkmark the colors and patterns you see.

I tried it myself and it’s pretty cool. You can use it to quiz your own bird skills or identify the mystery bird.

Click here or on the screenshot to play Mark My Bird.  Teach the computer how to think!

(screenshot from Cornell Lab of Ornithology Mark My Bird interactive tool)

7 responses so far

Dec 20 2011

Which Ones Are Cranes?

Published by under Cranes,Quiz

When people see a bird that impresses them they often tell me about it.  Sometimes they say, “I saw a crane” and I wonder… was it a crane or something else?   So I’ve made this conundrum into a quiz.

Which of these are cranes?  All of them?  Some of them?  Only one of them?

Leave a comment with your answer.  Extra credit for naming the species and for identifying the non-native(s).








(photos #1, #2 and #3 by Steve Gosser, photo #4 from Wikimedia Commons)

p.s. As usual I’ll wait to release comments from moderation so that early responders don’t give away the answer.


24 responses so far

Dec 13 2011

Quiz: What Species?

Published by under Quiz,Trees

Here’s a pattern I found in nature.   No two are alike.

What do you think it is?  The trick is in naming the species…

Leave a comment with your answer.

(photo by Kate St. John)

10 responses so far

Nov 29 2011

Quiz: What Plant?

Published by under Plants,Quiz

I discussed epiphytes a couple of days ago because I wanted to use this beautiful photo as a quiz. 

Though this looks like an artistic squiggle it’s actually a close-up of a plant. 

Here are some hints to its identity:

  • It’s an epiphyte.
  • It’s native to the southeastern U.S. where the climate is warm with high humidity.
  • It has tiny inconspicuous flowers.  (As many times as I’ve seen this plant I’ve never noticed any flowers.)
  • Its leaves are alternate, thin, heavily scaled and curved.  These are its leaves. 
  • The leaves appear to form long chains.
  • Big hint: It’s commonly found hanging from southern live oaks and bald cypress trees.

Can you guess what it is?

Leave a comment with your answer.

(photo by Ernest V. More in the public domain on Wikimedia Commons)

11 responses so far

Oct 19 2011

Speaking of Sparrows

Published by under Quiz


Here’s a sparrow that’s migrating through our area this month.

This one is tricky to identify.  Can you tell what species this is?

Leave a comment with your answer.

(photo by Bobby Greene)

9 responses so far

Sep 29 2011


Published by under Quiz

There’s a leopard in this tree.

Do you see it?

If you’re stumped here’s a digital closeup, but where is that in the tree?


I wouldn’t have been able to find the leopard without the annotated photo (see below).   

I’m glad there are no leopards in Pennsylvania’s woods!

(photo taken in Tanzania by Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons.  To find the leopard, click on the image and move your mouse over the original photo which has a yellow box around the leopard.)

One response so far

Aug 26 2011

What’s the Caption?

Published by under Quiz

Today’s blog is a bit like the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.

Here’s a picture.  What’s the caption?

Leave a comment with your answer.




(photo by Manfred Werner from Wikimedia Commons where it was picture of the day on 11 October 2010. Click on the photo to see the original)

p.s. These are red-legged seriemas (Cariama cristata), young bird is on left, adult on right.  Click here to learn more about them.

13 responses so far

Jun 25 2011

Quiz: Be a Bird Sleuth

Published by under Beyond Bounds,Quiz

Today’s blog is an opportunity to improve your bird identification skills and it’s a challenge.

What bird is this?

To level the playing field, I’ve picked a bird I’ve never seen.

Let’s go through the normal identification clues in order of importance.  These are the questions I ask myself when birding.  Many of them will help here.  (Yes, the order of the clues really matters.)

  1. Where on earth is this bird?  Out-of-place birds are rare.  Narrow the possibilities by knowing which birds occur where you’re birding. 
  2. What habitat is the bird in?  Even on migration birds pick their preferred habitat if at all available.  Is the bird at the ocean?  a lake?  river? streamside? dense woods? open woods?  pines? oaks? a field? a swamp? a mudflat?
  3. What sound does it make?  If you can identify birds by song, this is useful in Spring through June.  (If you can identify call notes you’re such an expert that you know what bird this is.)
  4. What size is it?  The size of a goose?  Larger?  The size of a crow?  robin?  sparrow?  Smaller than a sparrow?
  5. What shape is it?  This is really important!  Check its beak:  long?  short?  thick?  thin?  big and fat?  thin and short?   Check its legs:  long? short? almost non-existent?  Check its neck: long? short? very short?  Check its tail:  long? short? fancy?  Does it have ear tufts?  Does it have a crest?
  6. What is it doing?  How does it perch?  (Does it perch at all?)  How does it fly?  (short bursts, darting, hovering, soaring)  What does it eat? Food is a major clue.
  7. What color is it?  Color is actually the last clue though our brains lock onto it first.  You can actually identify a bird in the field without knowing its color.  How many of you can identify a crow by hearing it caw? …and you don’t even need to see it!


Here are the clues applied to the bird in this picture.  In some cases I’ll tell you more than you could know from a random photo.

  1. Where on earth is this bird?  It was photographed in Brazil.
  2. What habitat is the bird in?  It’s perched on a branch without lots of leaves.  Wild guess: This bird is in open woods.
  3. What sound does it make?  We can’t tell in a photo.
  4. What size is it?  We can barely tell in a photo so I’ll have to say:  This bird is the size of a starling.
  5. What shape is it?  Great question!   
    • Look at that beak: long and thick and significantly large compared to its body length. 
    • Notice the whiskers.  Most birds with whiskers catch insects in flight — nighthawks and flycatchers, for instance.  If this bird resembles another whiskered bird, it could be a relative? 
    • Check its legs:  short.
    • Check its neck:  short.
    • Check its tail:  long!  about 1/3 of the bird’s length
  6. What is it doing? 
    • How does it perch?  It typically perches with its beak tilted up.  Its stance is like a hummingbird except that its beak and body are too large.
    • How does it fly?  We can’t tell in this photo.
    • What does it eat?  Whiskers indicate that it probably eats flying insects.
  7. What color is it?  Rufous and iridescent green.


This bird has a beak like a woodpecker (a distant relative) but its whiskers indicate it eats flying insects.  Those who have seen this bird in the wild have called it “a glittering hummingbird the size of a starling.”

Ready for the answer?  See the link in the photo credit.

(photo by Dario Sanches via Wikimedia Commons.  Click on the photo to see the original.  Click here for the answer to this quiz.)

5 responses so far

Jun 09 2011

Red Eyes

Published by under Quiz

Black-crowned Night-heron (photo by Brian Herman)
Black-crowned night-herons are usually active at night but they’re so busy during the breeding season you might find one awake when the light is good.  Then you can see his colors.

Isn’t his red eye awesome! 

Other birds have red eyes too.  The red-eyed vireo is obvious — it’s in his name — but the rest require some research. 

How many red-eyed birds can you name? 

Leave a comment with your answer.

p.s.  Here’s a question for the experts (I don’t know the answer):  Why do they have red eyes?

(photo by Brian Herman)

11 responses so far

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