This past weekend, we celebrated Forest Fest at Penn State. At the festival, the avian outreach class had a table set up that talked about birding, demonstrated bird banding, and led a guided bird walk through the arboretum. We also had 10 photos, that I took, of 10 different species of birds for people to try and identify. Below are the photos again, with the correct answer, as well as a short explanation. Thanks to everyone that visited our table, visited our bird banding operation, and went on the guided bird walk with us!
Mystery Bird # 1 – White-breasted Nuthatch
This common bird of the forest is easily identified by the all-white undersides, dark cap on it’s head, and overall blue coloration on its uppersides, as well as the bird’s slightly upturned bill. This was a little tricky since this species is typically seen crawling down a tree trunk, not hopping around on the ground.
Mystery Bird # 2 – Yellow Warbler
A small, very yellow bird. really the only other features besides that its yellow are that it has fine reddish streaks on its belly, perfect for the common and well-known Yellow Warbler.
Mystery Bird # 3 – Bobolink
A rarely encountered species, unless you are an avid birder, the adult male Bobolink is easy to identify by the overall black coloration, yellowish puff of feathers on the back of it’s head, and the white rump and scapulars.
Mystery Bird # 4 – American Goldfinch
A common bird of backyard bird feeders and very often seen on thistle, the American Goldfinch is identified by its yellow color, black cap, and black wings.
Mystery Bird # 5 – Osprey
Its pretty obvious this is a raptor – large size, hooked bill, talons. It is an Osprey because of the long, lanky wing shape; very white undersides and underwing coverts; black eyestripe.
Mystery Bird # 6 – Merlin
Another raptor, this one on the smaller size. The long, pointed wings and long tail let you know its a falcon of some species. The overall dark coloration narrow is down to either Peregrine or Merlin. Peregrines have very obvious ‘sideburns’ on their face, and Merlin do not, so that makes this a Merlin.
Mystery Bird # 7 – Common Nighthawk
In my opinion, one of the coolest birds is the Common Nighthawk. The cryptic coloration on this very sleek-looking bird, with obvious white bars on the wings and tail make this an easy bird to identify as it flies erratically over fields and towns trying to catch insects in midair.
Mystery Bird # 8 – Least Sandpiper
Everyone is confused by shorebirds, but this species is usually the first one people learn to identify because it is very common across the country and has some unique traits. The small size, yellow legs, and slightly drooped bill identify this bird as a Least Sandpiper.
Mystery Bird # 9 – Red-breasted Merganser
Clearly this is some sort of waterfowl. The long, thin bill and long, gray body narrow it down to either Common Merganser or Red-breasted Merganser. Because this bird has a thinner, slightly upturned bill and wispy crest on it’s head, it is a Red-breasted.
Mystery Bird # 10 – Virginia Rail
A beautiful, but extremely secretive bird of cattail marshes is the Virgina Rail; told apart from other rails by its small size, rich reddish coloration, and gray face.
If anyone has any more questions about these birds or how to identify them, please email me at [email protected]!
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