Photo Quiz 3: How Many Species in This Photo?

November 20, 2009
Image by Birdshare contributor Robinsegg, taken October 4 in Utah. It’s a crop of a much larger image, with even more species in it. Spoiler alert: following the link will reveal some of the bird IDs in this picture.

It’s nearly winter, and those of you lucky enough to live near some beaches or mudflats probably enjoy gazing out over motley assortments of shorebirds like this one. Until you can get outside, though, cast your eyes over this photo and help us answer the question: How many species are in this photo? (Of course, we’d also like to hear which species you think are in the photo—and how you can tell.)

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One thing I love about this kind of birding is there are always a few birds on view that draw your eye as either pleasantly familiar or at least easy to figure out. I can gauge the intensity of my bird watching partners by how long they’re willing to scrutinize the other birds, like those little inkblots at the top of the frame. I also love the stark contrasts in size. I always find myself surprised by how my mental picture of a bird’s size in isolation doesn’t stack up against reality when two birds are side by side.

So have at it! Let’s try to compile a complete list of species for this photo. And if we need to I’ll try and get one or two of the Lab’s eBirders to weigh in on those mirage birds at the top.