Archive for the 'Quiz' Category

Oct 04 2012

The Largest Acorn

Published by under Quiz,Schenley Park,Trees

Crack open your field guides!

Today’s quiz is:  Identify this enormous acorn.

Here are some of its characteristics:

  • The acorns are huge.  The cups measure 1.25″ across.
  • The outside has a rough diamond pattern with a fringe at the edge.
  • The inside of the cup is smooth.
  • The acorn itself is dark brown (see last photo).
  • I found them in Schenley Park.

Here’s a close-up of the cups…

…and an acorn inside the cup.

Do you know what species this is?

Leave a comment with your answer.

(p.s.  The answer is now in the comments section.)

(photos by Kate St. John)

14 responses so far

Sep 17 2012

Does This Word Sound Like A Bird?

Published by under Quiz

Can you recognize the name of a bird in a language you’ve never heard?

Last weekend I found a 2009 New York Times science quiz where you can test this skill.

The quiz is a sample from a study conducted by anthropologist Brent Berlin at the University of Georgia.  In it he showed that human names for the natural world usually incorporate qualities of the organisms, so we can tell the difference between a bird name and a fish name even if we’ve never heard the language.

The questions in the study, and the quiz, present pairs of bird and fish names in a very foreign language: the Huambisa language of Peru. Brent Berlin pronounces the words in audio clips.

The original study participants correctly guessed the bird name 58% of the time.  My hunch is that birders will score higher than that.

I did amazingly well, correctly choosing 9 out of 10 bird names.  This photo shows the bird whose name I missed.

Can you tell if a word names a bird?  Click here to take the quiz.

(photo of a male purple-throated euphonia by Dario Sanches from Wikimedia Commons.  Click on the image to see the original)

8 responses so far

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

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