Question Guidelines

Submit you answer by email to Jin Bai. A correct answer submitted before the answer is posted earns 1 extra credit point. A new question will be posted every Monday morning. Submit a question that is chosen as the question of the week and earn 2 extra credit points. Submit a question that is posted and remains unanswered for 1 week and receive 5 extra credit points.

Note: If you submit an incorrect or incomplete answer, you will not be able to submit another answer for credit. You are welcome to continue to figure it out and talk to us, but no extra credit will be provided.

Week 1

When was Ornithology first taught at NCSU? Who taught it? What did the instructor accomplish after leaving NCSU?

Answer: Ornithology was first taught at NCSU in 1927 by Laurence Hasbrouck Snyder. Snyder was known as the “ Father of Human Genetics” in the U.S. He was a distinguished scientist and the president of the University of Hawaii.

Week 2

Identify the species in this photo and name one characteristic of this species. (Photo was taken in North Carolina in December). Click here to view the photo in its original size.

Photo by Jin Bai

Answer: Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum). They mainly eat fruits in the non-breeding season and often gather in huge flocks. Their yellow tail tips can be orange in some individuals due to the consumption of the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle.

ID tips: The yellow wash belly, white undertail coverts, black feet, short black undertail, suggest the species is Cedar Waxwing. In contrast, Bohemian Waxwing has cinnamon undertail coverts.

Congratulations to Jenna Donkle and Lucie Ciccone for submitting the correct answer!

Week 3

Identify the species in the photo. Where do they place their nest during the breeding season? (Photo was taken in South Carolina in December).

Photo by Jin Bai

Answer: Common Loon (in its non-breeding plumage). They nest in quiet, protected, and hidden spots of lakeshore.

ID tips: the habitat of open water (lake or ocean), the color and shape of the head, and the eye suggests it's a loon. The dark plumage around the eye suggests Common Loon.

Congratulations to Ashley Lynn for submitting the correct answer!

Week 4

Identify the species of both birds in the photo (they can be observed in NC).

Photo credit: Suan Young

Answer: male Mallard on the left, female Wood Duck on the right.

ID tips: Duck on the left: white tail, extensive gray sides, and large body size make the duck a male Mallard. Curly feathers over the tail can also be seen in this photo. Duck on the right: The thin white line on the back of the wing, relatively smaller size, white belly, and relatively long tail make the duck a female Wood Duck.

Congratulations to Jenna Donkle for submitting the correct answer!

Week 5

How many species are there in this photo? Identify all species (The photo was taken in Feb in NC). Click here to view the photo in its original size.

Photo credit: Thomas A. Driscoll

Answer: Birds on the back are American Avocets, the larger shorebirds in the front are Willets, and the smaller shorebirds in the front are Short-billed Dowitchers. If students identified the smaller shorebirds as dowitcher species, it still counts as a correct answer given the difficulties to differentiate between Short-billed Dowitcher and Long-billed Dowitcher (their different calls are more reliable field marks).

ID tips:

American Avocet: large shorebird with a light gray head, white underparts, and black wings with large white patch suggest they are American Avocets.

Willet: The relatively large size but slightly smaller than avocets, dark legs, overall gray color, and small eye-ring suggest they are willets.

Short-billed Dowitcher: about the size of a snipe, bigger than sanderlings, the distinctive barring on the flanks, white eyebrow, and dark face suggest they are Short-billed Dowitchers.

Week 6

Identify the species in the photo. Are they migratory? (Photo was taken in NC during winter).

Photo credit: Nan Dewire

Answer: White-breasted Nuthatch. New evidence suggests White-breasted Nuthatches could be irruptive migrants.

ID tips: a small bird that forages on tree trunks during winter and white outer tails with black tips suggest this is a White-breasted Nuthatch.

Photo Credit: Hilton Pond

Week 7

Identify the species in the photo. The photo was taken in Sep in Maryland.

Photo credit: Mike Ostrowski

Answer: Connecticut Warbler (female/immature).

ID tips: The olive-green upperparts, no wing bars, complete and distinctive white eye-ring, and pale bill and legs suggest that this is an immature or female Connecticut Warbler.

Congratulations to Vanessa Faulk for submitting the correct answer!

Week 8

All birds shown here have streaks in their breasts. Identify all species (all of them can be seen in North Carolina). You can click here to see the picture in better resolution.

Answer: (A) Song Sparrow. (B) Purple Finch. (C) American Pipit. (D) Vesper Sparrow. (E) Pine Siskin. (F) Lincoln’s Sparrow. (G) Fox Sparrow. (H) Savannah Sparrow.

ID tips: (A) a sparrow with reddish-brown wings and tail, thick brown streaks on the underparts, and a broad dark mustache stripe suggests Song Sparrow; (B) female Purple Finch has pale eyebrow and darker cheek whereas female House Finch doesn’t have a distinctive dark cheek; (C) overall slender body, grayish above, streaked below, and thin bill suggest American Pipit; (D) a sparrow with thin white eyering and rufous shoulder suggests Vesper Sparrow; (E) sharply pointed bill, streaked body, short, notched tail, and white/yellow wing bars suggests Pine Siskin; (F) a sparrow with finer streaking and bright buffy color on breast, white belly suggests Lincoln’s Sparrow; (G) a large sparrow with reddish wings, tail, and heavy streaks, and bicolored bill suggests Fox Sparrow; (H) a sparrow with crisply streaked breast and flanks, white eyebrow with yellow stripe (the yellow stripe is sometimes absent/indistinct in some individuals), dark brown malar stripe (thinner mustache stripe than Song Sparrow), white throat, thinner bill than Song Sparrow.

Congratulations to Vanessa Faulk for submitting the correct answer!

Week 9

Identify the species. The photo was taken in Suriname in July 2017.

Photo credit: Thomas A. Driscoll

Answer: Black-faced Hawk

ID tips: Black and white hawk of northern South America. It is white below and on the head, with black wings, black eye patches, a black tail with a single white band near the base.

Congratulations to Jenna Donkle for submitting the correct answer!

Week 10

Identify the species. The photo was taken in East Asia.

Photo credit: Aaron Maizlish

Answer: Brown Eared-Pheasant

ID tips: white uppertail coverts, long and horn-like white ear-tufts, tail feathers are white with blue tips, wings are dark brown.

Congratulations to Brandon Taylor for submitting the correct answer!

Week 11

Identify the species (listen for the loudest sound in the recording). The audio was recorded in New Hampshire in June.

Audio file.

Audio credit: Christopher McPherson

Answer: Willow Flycatcher

ID tips: Their song is “FITZ-bew”.

Congratulations to Ashley Conroy for submitting the correct answer!

Week 12

Identify the species.

Photo credit: Leon van der Noll

Answer: Ivory Gull

ID tips: all-white plumage, dark face, and variable black spotting on the wings and tail suggests this is an immature Ivory Gull.

Congratulations to Steph Lee for submitting the correct answer!

Week 13

Identify the species. The photo was taken in Dec in North Carolina.

Photo Credit: Jin Bai

Answer: Virginia Rail

ID tips: orange breast, red bill, distinctive gray cheek, black stripes on the back suggest it’s a Virginia Rail.

Congratulations to Ashley Conroy for submitting the correct answer!

Week 14

Identify the order and species of this bird. The photo was taken in the US.

Photo credit: Susan T Cook

Answer: Gruiformes, juvenile American Coot

ID tips: Juvenile American Coots differ from juvenile Common Gallinules by the color of the underparts: pale gray on American Coots and darker gray on Common Gallinules.

Congratulations to Vanessa Faulk for submitting the correct answer!

Week 15

Identify the species. The photo was taken in Eastern US.

Photo credit: Jin Bai

Answer: Hooded Warbler

ID tips: warbler with bright yellow face and underparts, and black hood.

Congratulations to Vanessa Faulk for submitting the correct answer!

 

 

 

 

Course Info / question of the week