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Photo Quiz 2: Funky Birds With Bright Markings

By Hugh Powell
photo bird quiz funky birds bright markings
Photo Quiz 2: Funky Birds With Bright Markings. Photos by Birdshare contributors Stephen Parsons and Greg Page.

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We got such an enthusiastic response to our first photo quiz that we’ve decided to launch another one. This one’s certainly not a tricky-ID problem—few people would look at these two photos and see two closely related species requiring keen attention to detail to separate.

And yet, they aren’t your everyday species and, despite their bold markings, they can be somewhat hard to locate when flipping through a field guide. I only noticed their overall similarities as I was assembling our November featured photographer portfolio, for Matt Shellenberg (spoiler alert: other photos of these two species are identified there).

Wait a minute, I said to myself, these are two strongly marked brown, yellow, gray, and black birds with big beaks. Identifying them is pretty straightforward—but why? What is your brain doing to separate these two birds from each other and from everything else? What advice would you give to a beginner to nudge them toward the right part of the field guide? As I said last week, we’re thinking a lot about the process of bird ID right now, and we’d love to know how you get to your answers.

Not only that, but they’re two cool birds, aren’t they? Here’s a closer look.

Exhibit A:


Exhibit B:


Thanks in advance for your answers. We’ll post a roundup in a few days.

(This photo quiz is powered by Birdshare contributors Stephen Parsons, Greg Page, and Kaustubh Deshpande. [spoiler alert! the birds are identified on those pages too])

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library