Category Archives: Quiz

Which Birds Occur in Both Places

Map of the world (image from Wikimedia Commons), highlighting the Americas and southern Africa

16 January 2024

Time for a quiz!

Name at least 5 bird species native to southern Africa in the Old World that also occur in the New World (the Americas). The regions to consider are green on the map above.

Hint: There’s a surprising number of wading birds!

Leave a comment with your answer.  My answer will be in the comments, too.

Watch Wading Birds

Wading birds feeding in Florida (screenshot from MyBarckyardBirding on YouTube)

24 February 2022

Take a visual trip to Florida and watch at least 10 species of birds feeding in a marsh. Notice that some stab at underwater prey, others nibble below the surface, some pick at the shore and some (the pink ones!) swipe their bills side-to-side.

How many of them can you identify? Leave a comment with your answer.

(Note: The embedded video from @MyBackyardBirding is limited it to the first two minutes. Click here to see the entire 13.5 minute video.)

Check back later for my checklist from the video.

(screenshot and embedded video from MyBackyardBirding on YouTube)

LATER. Here’s my list of the birds I saw in the video:

  1. Great egret
  2. Snowy egret
  3. Little blue heron
  4. Tricolor heron
  5. Glossy ibis
  6. White ibis
  7. Roseate spoonbill
  8. Boat-tailed grackle
  9. Lesser yellowlegs
  10. Greater yellowlegs.

Quick Quiz for a Friday

3 December 2021

QUICK QUIZ: Name the two birds of prey pictured in these tweets. Leave a comment with your answer.

(The hawk tweet below is from September.)

(tweets by @geococcyxcal and @GetToKnowNature)

P.S. Everyone’s getting the answers right. Check the comments.

Quiz: Where Is The Largest Desert on Earth?

Rippled sand of Sharjah Desert, UAE (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Quiz! Where is the largest desert on Earth? What continent is it on?

By “largest” I mean square miles. By “desert” I mean …

A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation. About one-third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid.

Wikipedia entry for Desert

Did you know that the majority of deserts are not composed of sand dunes?

To get you in the mood, here are photos of deserts around the world.

The road to Mar Musa, Syria (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Gobi Desert, Mongolia, in autumn (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Valle de la Muerte, Atacama Desert, Chile (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Arizona National Scenic Trail (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Leave a comment with your answer. I’ll post the answer later today (see below).

Click here for a map (By the way, this map includes the answer but it doesn’t look that way!)

ANSWER: Antarctica! In fact both poles are deserts. The Antarctica Polar Desert is 5.5. million square miles, the Arctic Polar Desert is 5.4 million sq mi and the Sahara is 3.5 million sq mi. Read more about the largest deserts at

Snow surface at Dome C Station, Antarctica (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Why is it a desert? Because the air is so dry. As the Dan Satterfield explains in Scientific Facts That Are Not True:

It cannot be too cold to snow some. It can be too cold to snow a lot. As air gets colder, it can hold less moisture. This is why the Antarctic is the greatest desert on Earth. It’s drier in many places than the Sahara! Climate change is expected to cause more snow in polar regions, not less. Now you know why. (warmer air means it can snow more)

— Wild Wild Science Blog: Scientific Facts That Are Not True

(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)

You Are What You Eat

Male northern cardinal feeds his lady, May 2018 (photo by Bob Kroeger)

23 August 2020

Many birds look ragged right now because they’re molting. July and August are the perfect time to replace worn feathers because the breeding season is over, food is plentiful and they aren’t traveling on migration. The cardinal below looks moth-eaten because he’s molting his body feathers.

Male northern cardinal molting in July (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

What a red bird eats while he’s molting affects his feathers. Red feathers get their color from carotenoids in food so a diet rich in carotenoids makes a cardinal brighter for the coming year.

Bush honeysuckle, though invasive, is a good source of carotenoids. Unfortunately it’s not as nutritious as our native berries.

Invasive bush honeysuckle (photo by Kate St. John)

This bright red cardinal is eating American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). The redder he is, the better the ladies like him.

Northern cardinal eating American beautyberry (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

This dull colored cardinal must have missed the red berries last summer.

Dull colored male northern cardinal (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

House finches have a more obvious response to nutrition while molting. Finches without enough carotenoids produce orange feathers instead of red. In Marcy Cunkelman’s photo below there’s an orange house finch on the right, a red one on the left.

Red and orange house finches at the feeder (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

You are what you eat.

(photos by Bob Kroeger, Marcy Cunkleman, Kate St. John and from Wikimedia Commons)

Birdsong Quiz with Immediate Answers!

Yellow warbler singing (photo by Chuck Tague)

6 June 2020

During #BlackBirdersWeek author, public speaker, photographer and birder Dudley Edmonson tweeted a video birdsong quiz with immediate answers. Click on the screenshot below to listen on Twitter.

How many songs can you identify?

p.s. All five birds are from eastern North America. The yellow warbler pictured above is not on the quiz.

If you don’t hear anything when the Twitter video plays, click the speaker icon on the video at bottom right.

(yellow warbler photo by Chuck Tague, screenshot of Dudley Edmonson tweet)

Quiz: What Are These?

Quiz #1 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Today a Quiz. Here are two super sharp photos of plants from very different families. What are they?

Quiz #1: The top photo is a focus stack of 100 images. In real life the image would be 2mm wide so I think it’s been magnified about 80 times. (This one is hard to guess. It helps to squint your eyes to make it look small.)

Quiz #2: The photo below is a focus stack of 70 macro images. What it is?

Quiz #2 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

If you’re desperate for clues, click the links on the captions to view the photo descriptions. Here’s a clue for #2: It’s edible.

Have an idea? Leave a comment with your answer.

p.s. In case you’re curious … Focus stacking is a digital processing technique in which the photographer takes multiple images of the same object at different focal points, then digitally merges the photos to produce a completely in-focus image. The object has to hold still and so does the camera. It requires special software to merge the images.

This video shows how it works.

(photos and video from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)