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Raptor Quiz #1

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Thursday, June 16, 2011 

I thought I would post 3 or 4 raptor quizzes in the next couple of weeks. They will be silhouettes, so they may be difficult, but fun nonetheless. Above is the first one, just respond in the "comments"...anonymously if you like. No egos or agenda here, just a simple fun activity for all of us to possibly learn something from. For me, it is interesting to hear other's comments, it makes everyone look more closely and consider aspects they may never have thought of. And, I am always willing to share my opinions and thoughts if they are helpful, regardless if I am right or wrong.

I think the image I posted was a bit difficult and unfair, so I added another image of the same species that may help with the ID.

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Blogger Unknown said...

I'll venture a guess without cheating by using your book. Sharp-shinned Hawk based on small head projecting just past forward-held wrists. S-shaped trailing edge of wings due to long central secondaries. The tail in the silhouette doesn't seem quite long enough, but still seems acceptable when compared to other species.

June 16, 2011 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm still troubling over this one...I am also looking at Rough-legged Hawk and Northern Harrier. Grrr!

June 16, 2011 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Ryan O'Donnell said...

Hmm, my gut says Buteo, not harrier or sharpie. The tail looks too short and rounded for either of those two. As for which Buteo, if even that much is correct, I'm not sure. It looks a bit too broad-winged to be a Swainson's. . . Red-tailed Hawk?

June 16, 2011 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger deneb said...

I'm thinking buteo, maybe red-shouldered because I got a subtle wristy vibe. But knowing Jerry, I think it could be a more unusual posture than one would normally see from this bird, whatever it is. I need to go study the book and then make a better guess.....OK, I am going with my first gut impression, Red-shouldered?

June 17, 2011 at 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Allen Fish said...

I'm going with Golden - those look like long bulky wings (long arm and long hand) and in a glide, they hold their fingering when swept back. Also head is short and broad, tail is long but wide. Not noticeably molty making me think juv or adult, although is that a gap at s1, p1?
Regardless, thanks jerry --

June 17, 2011 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks good for a RL:

> This wrist location looks correct
> The head looks small
> The trailing edge looks pretty flat
> Looks like in a subtle glide - not much pri. projection
> Wings look somewhat stocky too

Robert - Illinois

June 17, 2011 at 9:11 PM  
Anonymous m is for mike said...

Geez, all partially tucked gliders look the same to me. But pretty sure it's a buteo based on proportions. With absolutely no confidence, I'll go with rough-legged because of the width of the wings and mellow bulge along the trailing edge. There's a little roundness to the tail, but that might just be the angle of the picture. Second guess: juvie RT due to shorter secondaries.

June 17, 2011 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Vic Berardi said...

Tough one for sure but I'll take a stab at it and agree with Deneb. Proportions (tail length, wing length, body & head size) and squared off wingtips tell me Red-shouldered Hawk . . . but I wouldn't be surprised if that was incorrect :-(

Lots to consider on silhouettes like this. Good one Jerry!

June 18, 2011 at 10:20 AM  
Anonymous m is for mike said...

With the same lack of confidence, my third guess is an unbanded, adult female harrier with an empty crop. Fourth guess: zone tailed. Fifth guess: red shouldered. Sixth guess: turkey vulture.

June 19, 2011 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Vic Berardi said...

This is very interesting indeed. With Jerry's additional image (the top one of the two) I can see how this might be a Northern Harrier, the length of those primaries in relation to wing length suggests harrier. It also might possibly suggest Caracara. Although any raptor can be found almost anywhere (almost the key word here) I did assume this bird to be a regularly migrating raptor and didn't even consider Zone-tailed or Roadside Hawk. That may have been a mistake. A silhouette photo is really tough because it captures a moment in time, a glimpse. But, having said that I know Jerry will have very sound reasoning why this shape (silhouette) is what it is, based on both images!

Can't wait to see the answer and why!

June 19, 2011 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

I vote Northern Harrier!

June 19, 2011 at 6:46 PM  
Anonymous m is for mike said...

I agree with Vic. Difficult yes, but unfair, no.

June 19, 2011 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger deneb said...

WOW! These are the same bird?! I am going to have to take back my first guess because the wings are just too long and lack the squared off tips in that new silhouette....I am not even going to use the head because it might just be tucked down looking at something. And look at those long fingers! Jerry, I think you should give us a hint. Is this an unusual pose for this raptor? You just made it more difficult by adding the second shot......the lesson being that at any given moment the shape may look like one thing and in the next moment, the bird flexes or stretches and can look like another bird altogether. I mean, I never thought a harrier could look like an eagle but I just used your book and it is possible!!!! How often do we ONLY get a silhouette, though? You maybe could give us a little light, a little shading?
Well, I am going to say it is NOT a falcon, nor is it an accipiter. Give me some more.
and this is fun.

June 20, 2011 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger Vic Berardi said...

I think someone once called the Northern Harrier, "the great fooler" or something along those lines. I know they've confused me a few times in photos and whenever I've rushed my judgement in the field on a distant bird. Other than the relative length of the tail on Jerry's bird everything does seem to point to a harrier, just would've never thought that from the first photo we saw (the bottom one of the two.) The angle of the photo could just be showing the tail shorter than what we're accustomed to seeing or think we should be seeing.
The thing that is so excellent about this quiz is that it is teaching us to be more aware of possibilities. And yes, as Deneb said, it is fun!

June 20, 2011 at 5:12 AM  
Anonymous m is for mike said...

Having used up all my guesses, I can't add any helpful info on this quiz, but can relate my first meeting with Jerry: last fall in the Goshutes I was walking out to North Blind and stopped at "Obs" to say hi to the observers and visitors. There was Jerry, a cup of coffee in one hand, a camera with an uber lens in the other. It was first thing in the morning and everyone was settling in before the action began. I happened to notice a speck on the horizon and mentioned to no one in particular, "hey, there's a bird in the gap" (one of the local landmarks to the north). Although no one had appeared to be scanning, Jerry was already on it and asked me if I knew what it was. Yikes, I finally meet the author of the go-to raptor guide I've been carrying in the field for years and I'm already on the spot. No "how do you do's" or the slightest chance to kiss up to him about loving his book and all the blah blah stuff. And the bird was literally a dot, albeit a relatively big dot, in the sky. I'm pretty sure it's far enough away that nobody can call me on it before I have a chance to scoot, so I play the percentages and assertively guess "Red Tail" while grabbing my pack to leave. Jerry immediately says "Are you sure? Why do you think that?" Oh #%^#, this cannot end well. I've got nothing to support my guess other than "it looks kind of big". My only hope is that it actually turns out to be a RT when it's finally close enough to tell for sure. But Jerry already knows that my bet isn't going to pay off.... He graciously goes into teaching mode and walks me through shape and flight style until the tiny speck on the horizon becomes, in Vic's words, "the Great Fooler". A soaring Harrier!

June 20, 2011 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Uughhhh Mike, you make me sound like a know-it-all ass@#*!...just kidding of course. But I will say, I know I never asked "are you sure" because that is a pet-peeve of mine and a future blog entry (or did I mention that already?), I might have asked you what you were seeing about the bird's shape, etc. to open a dialogue. Ah, who cares what I sounded like, hope it was a good experience for both of us, and I'm glad we met.

God, you kill me...though.

June 20, 2011 at 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the Raven was known as the Trickster. Did Carlos Castenadas say that or was it Joni Mitchell.....both birders.

June 20, 2011 at 3:27 PM  
Anonymous m is for mike said...

!! I'll admit that those might not have been your exact words, but the balance of the story is true. In a setting where a lot of prominent bird authorities might have used my lack of knowledge to their advantage, you were very cool about it. One moment I wanted to bail, the next I wanted to stick around to learn some more. For those of you who haven't met Jerry, don't worry about him being an unapproachable know it all- but as far as him being an ass@#*@... that's a whole 'nother story! Hahahaha! (kidding, kidding, kidding)

June 20, 2011 at 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Mike.

By the way, the bird is a Zone-tailed Hawk....I admit it was difficult because it was an unexpected quiz bird. And, all the comments opened my eyes to other issues. I appreciate the responses and will post another one soon.

June 21, 2011 at 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving it away, Jerry. How about a photo, now, of that same bird in the same postures that is not a silhouette?

June 21, 2011 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Vic Berardi said...

Thanks Jerry, that was quite an exercise! And makes one have to consider all the possibilites. As I mentioned earlier, I assumed it was a regularly migrating raptor, and I also mentioned that was a mistake to make that assumption. Probably should have asked a few questions (where, when was the photo taken, etc.), but then again anything is possible anywhere!

Look forward to the next quiz, but I think I'll watch that one from the sidelines :-)

June 21, 2011 at 11:11 AM  

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