Category Archives: Quiz

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)

Visualize Bird Song

Screenshot from Bird Song Hero tutorial (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Now that the birds are singing again and more singers will arrive on migration, it’s time to practice identifying songs by ear. Yes, it’s hard to do but it’s easier if you can visualize the song.

Just like a sheet of music, a spectrogram of bird song shows how the frequency (pitch) goes up and down. The black dashes graph the frequency and length of the notes. The brown wave graphs loudness in decibels.

Song sparrow spectrogram for Xeno Canto audio XC374118 (audio by Ted Floyd)

Play the matching audio to hear the graph: a song sparrow recorded by Ted Floyd, Xeno Canto XC374118.

This is just one example but you can learn to do it yourself and practice with two quizzes at Cornell Lab’s All About Birds.

  1. Learn how to read the spectrograms that visualize bird song in this video: Bird Song Hero Tutorial.
  2. Two quizzes follow the video or you can try them independently at the Bird Song Hero Challenge. TIP: Watch the sonogram as it plays! Some of them are tricky.

p.s. Did you know that birds sing harmonies we can’t hear? On the song sparrow spectrogram, above, there are tall vertical dashes during the fast part of the song. The bird is harmonizing with himself in the 12,000 HZ frequency. If you’re older than 30-something, you probably can’t hear it.

(screenshot from Bird Song Hero tutorial (Cornell Lab of Ornithology, sonogram and audio from Xeno Canto XC374118 by Ted Floyd)

p.p.s Xeno Canto calls the graphs “sonograms.” It’s an older word for spectrogram. Here’s the difference between “spectrogram” and “sonogram.”

Who’s On The Wire?

Bird on the fence in Germany (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s a North American breeding bird whose field marks resemble an uncommon winter visitor to rural Pennsylvania.  But that’s not who he is.

This bird breeds in Europe, Asia, and far northern North America and spends the winter in Africa.   If he comes to Pennsylvania he causes a stir.

Here’s his range map — breeding zone in orange, wintering in dark blue.

Range map of our mystery bird (from Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday quiz: 

  • What bird is this?
  • What (uncommon) Pennsylvania bird does he resemble?
  • What field marks differ between the two of them?

(photo and range map from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)

Who’s On The Wire?

Bird on a wire at Carrizo Plain, CA (photo from BLM via Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s a bird you won’t see in Pennsylvania.  He was photographed at Carrizo Plain National Monument, 100 miles (as the crow flies) northwest of Los Angeles, California.

Quiz:  Who is this on the wire? … Notice his long legs.

(photo by Bob Wick, BLM via Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

What’s a Peduncle?

Fuji apples (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s a puzzle. Don’t google it.  Look at the photos to arrive at an answer.

In botany: What is a peduncle?

We encounter peduncles every day though we don’t use the word much anymore.  Since 1950 the word has fallen out of common use and because it looks like pedophile+uncle the urban dictionary lists a raunchy meaning. But that’s not what it is.

Peduncle comes from ped (Latin for foot) plus -uncle (an Old French diminutive ending) so it literally means tiny foot.

Each photo on this page has at least one visible peduncle.  Can you find it?

Black raspberries (photo by Kate St. John)
Elderberries at Jennings, 4 Aug 2018 (photo by Kate St. John)
Elderberries at Jennings, 4 Aug 2018 (photo by Kate St. John)
Fruit of the ginkgo tree (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s a clue.  The number of peduncles in each photo above is:

  • Apples = 1
  • Black raspberries = 5 (three are hidden)
  • Elderberries = too many to count
  • Ginkgos = 9

Final clue: The photo below shows no fruit, but it has peduncles.

Fruit stems on a Sassafras Tree (photo by Dianne Machesney)

Still stumped?  Click here for the answer.

(photos from Kate St. John, Dianne Machesney and Wikimedia Commons. Click on the Wikimedia captions to see the originals.)

An Assortment Of Flowers

  • Biennial gaura (photo by Kate St. John)

Here’s an assortment of wildflowers found in western Pennsylvania this month.  Many are blooming. One has a fruit.

For fun, a quiz: Can you match their names to the list below?

  • Cup plant
  • Partridge pea
  • Jack in the pulpit
  • Joe pye-weed
  • Biennial gaura
  • Green-headed coneflower
  • Touch-me-not

(photos by Kate St. John)

Quiz: Identify Them in Flight

Waterbirds in flight, Florida 2013 (photo by Don Weiss)
Waterbirds in flight, Florida 2013 (photo by Don Weiss)

Can you identify these birds in flight?

Hints:

  • Don Weiss took the photo at Merritt Island, Florida.
  • I see 6 species.   Do you see more?
  • The pink ones are my favorite.
  • I see wood storks.  (But I’m wrong!  They are white pelicans.)

 

(photo by Don Weiss)

The Answer … or at least part of the answer …

Annotated birds in flight (photo by Don Weiss)
Annotated birds in flight (photo by Don Weiss)

  1. Glossy ibis
  2. White pelican –> white tail & black doesn’t extend all the way to the body
  3. Common tern?  (Certainly a tern)
  4. Snowy egret (kc saw yellow feet)
  5. Great egret
  6. Roseate spoonbill
  7. White ibis

Any others?

The Reindeer Quiz

Santa, sleigh, and reindeer (image from Clipart Library)
Santa, sleigh, and reindeer (image from Clipart Library)

Legend says that reindeer will pull Santa’s sleigh tonight.

What do we know about real reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)?

Here’s a quiz based on Reindeer: 12 Fascinating Facts About These Amazing Creatures on the National Wildlife Federation website.  Click on the 12 Facts link to see the answers and even more information.

THE QUIZ:

a. Reindeer live in Europe, Asia and North America, but on our continent they have a different name.  What are they called?

Map of reindeer range (image from Wikimedia Commons)
Map of reindeer range (image from Wikimedia Commons)

b. Among moose, elk and white-tailed deer, only the males grow antlers.  What about reindeer?

c. Reindeer coats change from winter to summer and so do their hooves.  What’s different about their hooves and why do they change?

Reindeer in Svalbard (photo by Per Harald Olsen via Wikimedia Commons)
Reindeer in Svalbard (photo by Per Harald Olsen via Wikimedia Commons)

d. “Some subspecies have knees that make a clicking noise when they walk.”   What’s the advantage to making this noise?   (Do your knees click?  Here’s an excuse for it.)

e. Reindeer do migrate and those in North America travel quite far.  How far do they go?

f. Reindeer used to live in the Lower 48.  Which state?  And how long ago was that?

g. Where did we get the idea that reindeer can pull sleighs?   Here’s a visual answer.

Reindeer pulling a sleigh circa 1900 in Archangel, Russia (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Reindeer pulling a sleigh circa 1900 in Archangel, Russia (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

h. Who is the leading predator of reindeer calves?  (Hint: It’s a bird!)

 

Visit Reindeer: 12 Fascinating Facts About These Amazing Creatures for the answers.

 

(clipart from Clipart Library; photos from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the images to see the originals)

Green Eggs On Nettle

Green eggs on stinging nettle leaves (photo by Kate St.John)
Green eggs on stinging nettle leaves (photo by Kate St.John)

Today, a quiz.

I found green eggs on stinging nettle on August 9 at Wolf Creek Narrows, Butler County, PA.

Are they eggs or something else?

And who laid them?

Post a comment with your answer.

I’ll reveal their identity later today.

THE ANSWER:  29 August, 3:15pm
This was a tricky quiz because the structures really do look like eggs. I thought they were butterfly eggs but they are too smooth. The butterflies most likely to lay eggs on nettle have very wrinkled eggs.  For instance, click here to see the eggs of the small tortoiseshell butterfly.

Mary Ann Pike correctly identified the green “eggs” as nettle galls of (probably) Dasineura investita.  The galls are the plant’s defenses against the larvae inside them.  The larvae are from midges so tiny that I can’t find photographs of the adult insects though these three photos may give you an idea.

Caterpillars of the Sordid Hypena moth (Hypena sordidula) eat these galls.  Click here to see it.

(photo by Kate St. John)