A Bird ID Quiz

We received the following email from a birder in the United Kingdom, and asked him if we could post it on our blog. He’s looking  for ID help on three local bird species, so we thought we would ask our readers what they think the birds are. Two sparrow-ish birds and a shorebird should give you quite a challenge. Leave your best guesses in the comments below, and we’ll put up the correct answers eventually…

Dear Pat, Bob and Matthew,

Firstly I want to say how great your blog is – I have just gotten back to the UK after two weeks in your neck of the woods [late September] and the blog was very helpful in finding out about local spots and unfamiliar birds! I particularly enjoyed the sections on Fish Creek Park which we visited a couple of times and had great views of Bald Eagle, fishing Osprey and Lesser Yellowlegs.

I have a couple of ID questions that I hope you can help me solve! This was my first trip to Canada and most of the species are entirely unfamiliar (I have just one short non-birding trip to Texas last year as previous North American experience!).

Firstly, I attach a jpg file, ‘Sparrow sp’. I intially thought this was a pipit from stance but later revised my opionion to a sparrow, possibly Vesper due to the strong white eye ring. It was foraging for food in sparsely vegetated ground near the Elbow Valley constructed wetland. Any thoughts on ID would be greatly appreciated!

Another,  ‘Bunting sp’ is also attached… This one was seen out near Forgetmenot Pond by the Elbow River. I’m thinking Lapland Longspur but wouldn’t be surprised to discover it’s something else!

Finally, a picture of a Yellowlegs from Fish Creek Park near Mallard Point. I initially thought it was a Lesser, but the bill length, amount of yellow on the bill base and the head shape have made me unsure, although it lacks the bolder streaking of Greater. Your views are appreciated.

Many thanks in advance for your time and assistance, and with great appreciation for your blog,

Steve Marshall


One thought on “A Bird ID Quiz

  1. 1) Vesper Sparrow seems likely
    2) Savannah Sparrow is my guess
    3) I’d say Yellowlegs seems like a good candidate, but I find it hard to distinguish between Greater and Lesser without a scale.

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