Photo Quiz 4: Fall Gets Confusing

December 11, 2009
Images via Birdshare. Clockwise from top left: (spoiler alert: clicking on these links may give away the IDs) Ganesh Jayaraman, Greg Page, kellycolganazar, Ganesh Jayaraman.

It’s technically still fall, even if we do have snow on the ground already. Perhaps the warm colors in our photo quiz will bring back some toasty memories of birding a couple of months ago. Did you see any of the above species? For that matter, what are the species up there? It’d even be helpful to know the genus for starters.

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As always, our photo quiz welcomes answers from all comers, whether you know what these birds are, you’re outright guessing, or you’re just thinking out loud the way you might on an outing with your friends. In the scheme of things, these aren’t the absolute hardest little songbirds we could throw at you—but there’s nothing straightforward about them, either. Newer birders, in particular, have lots of odd anatomical features to focus on here.

We’d love to hear a description of what aspects of each bird and photo lead you to your identification, and not just the final identification you come up with. It’s like in math class: show your work for full credit. Thanks for playing!

Like these photo quizzes? Check out Quiz 1, Quiz 2, and Quiz 3.


  • Al Fish

    Sorry, I’m not good enough to get those. They are all “Little Yeller Fellers.” I check out your previous quizzes. The one (Philadelphia Warbler) taken at Eagle Creek – that’s only about 20 miles from where I live.


  • Top left: Orange-crowned Warbler – dull colored warbler – yellow undertail coverts

    Top right: Philadelphia Vireo – close to a Tennessee Warbler, but I’d expect more green in the wings. the bill thickness is hard to distinguish in the photo.

    Bottom left:Nashville Warbler – white eye-ring – yellow throat – gray head – green back.

    Bottom right: immature Magnolia Warbler – streaky flanks and dark wings with white wingbars differentiate it from the Nashville.

  • Clockwise, from top left, Orange-crowned Warbler, Philadelphia Vireo, Magnolia Warbler, Nashville Warbler. My guesses are based more on instinct than specific field marks, but… OC Warbler because of the gray head, mostly greenish body, indistinct supercilium, and Vermivora-type pointed bill; Philly Vireo because of the blunt hooked vireo-type bill, strong facial pattern & supercilium, and yellow underparts; Maggie because of the gray head with eye ring, yellow underparts with streaking, and wingbars; Nashville because of gray head with eye ring, mostly yellow underparts, and greenish wings with no bars.

  • Clockwise from Top Left:

    Orange-crowned Warbler – incomplete eyering, pointed bill (typical of vermivora warblers), grayish head and greenish back.

    Philadelphia Vireo – yellow throat and belly, distinct gray eyeline and cap, thick bill distinguishing it as a vireo.

    Magnolia Warbler imm – white eyering and gray head, white wing bars, yellow throat and belly with slight streaking.

    Nashville – complete eyering, yellow throat contrasting with a grayish green head, thin “vermivora” bill, greenish above, yellow below.


  • Carol

    I was happy to know I identified warblers and one vireo… least that gets me to the right page in my bird identification book. :)

  • the one at 2o’clock is a Philadelphia vireo, the white superciliar from the bill and the wash yellow underparts and olive uperparts is what I saw.

    the one at 5 o’clock is a Magnolia warbler, the yellow underparts with white bars in the wing with white ocular ring.

    the one at 7o’clock is a Nashvill warbler, the yellow underparts, hindcollar to the throat, round eyering, olive uperparts.

    the one at 11o’clock is a west montain orange-crowned warbler, the head and uperparts colors,eye stripe, bill and underparts.

Photo Quiz 4: Fall Gets Confusing