Last weekend our ace programmer, France Dewaghe, skipped out of Ithaca for Cape May to catch the tail-end of fall migration. Here at work, we had been thinking a lot about bird identification and the power of groups to hone in on IDs, even tricky ones. So when France came back with a memory card full of bird photos—in his spare time he’s also the reigning champ in the digital SLR category of the World Series of Birding—we thought we’d give you all a look at one of the most enduring of all ID problems.
Take a look at these two birds and leave us a comment about what you think they are. Are they the same species or different species? Different age or sex? What do you think they are, and what leads you to that conclusion? We’re interested in hearing from anyone out there, whether you’re an expert or just learning; whether you know the answer or just have a hunch.
Here are the images one by one, a little bigger. Both were taken October 25, 2009, at the hawk-watching platform in Cape May, New Jersey.
and Exhibit B:
Let us know if you like these bird quizzes and we’ll offer more from time to time (you can also check out the semi-regular Mystery Bird feature at GrrlScientist). And if you find all this bird ID confusing, check out our Inside Birding video series for easy-to-use tips on your technique.
(Images by France Dewaghe)