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Christmas Bird Count Quiz

by Sylvia Gallagher
updated Nov. 23, 2001

NOTE:  This quiz was written by Sylvia in November 1984. Its purpose was to help birders, attending her monthly Birding Skills Workshops, prepare for the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts.  Today in 2001, many of us birders are still interested in becoming better prepared for the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts.  With this in mind, I am including an updated version of her CBC Quiz for those of you who will be participating in one or both of this year's Christmas Bird Counts.  The answers can be found on a separate page which is linked to the Quiz - after the final question. That way, you won't be tempted to peek at the answers before you are finished.

Nancy Kenyon

DIRECTIONS FROM SYLVIA:  Answer  for birds as they would appear in December on an Orange County CBC.

1.     The grebe which usually swims with its rear end fluffed up high is _______________.

2.     Which grebe (Western or Clark's) usually has a greenish-yellow bill? _____________

3.     Which grebe  (Western or Clark's) is the most common locally? _________________

4.     The white heron/egret which has a fat yellow bill and a chunky neck is ______________.

5.     The largest white heron/egret is _________________.

6.     Which of the two locally common Accipiters . . .
      a.     has its head protruding farther forward when in flight?
      b.     has a dark-capped look?
      c.     has faster wing beats?
      d.     has square corners to its tail?
      e.     is larger?

7.     The other hawk with which the immature Red-shouldered Hawk is most often confused is___________.

8.     Which Buteo has a dark-hooded appearance? ________________

9.     Pale "windows" near the wing tips of this Buteo are a good field mark when the bird is flying high overhead.

10.   Melanism is common in which local Buteo? ___________________


11.    Which bird, the Red Knot or the Dunlin. . . (one question's answer is "neither" or "both") . . .
.........a.    has pale edges to the back feathers?
.........b.    has the longer bill?
.........c.    has a bill which droops at the tip?
.........d.    has dark markings clear across the breast?
.........e.    is larger?

12.    Which bird, the Wandering Tattler or the Spotted Sandpiper . . .
........ a.    is rarely found away from the rocky ocean shore?
........ b.    bobs more compulsively?
........ c.    has more duskiness on the underparts?

13.    Which bird, the Whimbrel or the Long-billed Curlew . . .
.........a.    is more likely at Upper Newport Bay?
.........b.    is more likely on the rocks at Corona del Mar?
.........c.    has a bill about twice as long as the head?
.........d.    has stronger head striping?
.........e.    has cinnamon wing linings?

14.    Which bird, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, or Western Sandpiper . . .
.........a.    is most common at the ocean front?
.........b.    is most likely on the northeastern CBC?
.........c.    has a dusky wash across the breast?
.........d.    has the most decurved beak?
.........e.    has yellow legs --- if they're not muddy?

15.    Which gull is occasionally confused with a phalarope because it swims so buoyantly?

16.    Which two species of gull are most common on school grounds and parking lots?

17.    The gull species from question 16, which has the darker mantle as an adult, is ____________.

18.    The gull from question 16, which is streaky all over as a 1st winter immature, is______________.

19.    Which is the most common wintering kingbird? ______________

20.    Which is the 2nd most likely wintering kingbird? _____________


21.    The swift/swallow most frequently seen on a CBC is ______________.

22.    The 2nd most likely wintering swift/swallow is _________________.

23.    Which bird, the American Crow or the Common Raven. . .
........ a.    is smaller?
........ b.    has a croaky voice?
........ c.    has a wedge-shaped tail?
........ d.    is more common in residential areas?

24.    Which bird, the Northern Mockingbird or the Loggerhead Shrike . . .
........ a.    has a black mask?
........ b.    is chunkier?
........ c.    is more likely on a solitary bush in the middle of an open field?

25.    Which bird, the Hutton's Vireo or the Ruby-crowned Kinglet . . .
........ a.    is more common and widespread?
........ b.    has a loud "zweet" call?
........ c.    has a stuttery "jiddit" call?
........ d.    occasionally gives a high, reedy "meow" call?
........ e.    has two prominent wing bars with black between them?
........ f.     has the more yellow-green back?
........ g.    compulsively flicks its wings?
........ h.    has the larger bill?

26.    Which race of the Yellow-rumped Warbler . . .
....... a.    has the darker cheek patch?
....... b.    has the more tonal chip note?
....... c.    has the pale area of the throat extending up behind the cheek patch forming a little point?
....... d.    is more common locally?

27.    Which sparrow, Rufous-crowned or Chipping . . .
....... a.    is more likely on lawns?
....... b.    has the flatter head?
....... c.    has both a winter and a summer plumage?
....... d.    has wing bars?
....... e.    has an eye ring?

28.    Which race of the Savannah Sparrow . . .
....... a.    is never found away from the salt marsh?
....... b.   has narrower streaking on the breast?

29.    Which sparrow, Fox, Song, or Lincoln's . . .
....... a.    is the most common?
....... b.    has the most dense streaking on the underparts?  the finest?
....... c.    has a pale orange background to the breast streaking?
....... d.    has a pale lower mandible?
....... e.    has a call similar to the chip of an Anna's Hummingbird?
....... f.     has a loud, sharp "chink" call similar to a California Towhee?
....... g.    has a deep chocolate brown back?

30.    Which sparrow has a bright yellow bill?


31.    Which two members of the blackbird family feed on  the ground with their tails up?

32.    Which has a shorter, fatter bill, the Brewer's Blackbird or the Brown-headed Cowbird?

33.    Which goldfinch . . .
....... a.    is least common on a CBC?
 .......b.    essentially lacks seasonal plumage variation?
....... c.    has a peachy tan color in winter?
....... d.    has a sad down-slurred call?

34.    Which female teal, Blue-winged or Cinnamon . . .
....... a.    has more white feathers at the base of the bill?
....... b.    has more prominent head striping?
....... c.    has a more spatulate bill?

35.    Which yellowlegs . . .
....... a.    is rare on a CBC?
....... b.    has the basal 30% of the bill pale, the rest dark?
....... c.    usually has a slightly upturned bill?
....... d.    has a proportionately (i.e. for the size of the bird) shorter bill?

36.   Which sapsucker of the group formerly called Yellow-bellied . . .
....... a.    is most common?
....... b.    has more red and less black and white on the head?

37.   List the 4 most common wintering warblers in decreasing order of abundance.
....... (These are the only ones which don't have to be described if seen.)

38.    Which gnatcatcher . . .
....... a.    is a rare resident of Coastal Sage Scrub habitat?
....... b.    has a soft "me-ow" call which clearly descends in pitch?
....... c.    has a dark cheek which contrasts with a pale eye-ring, throat and underparts?
....... d.    exhibits sexual dimorphism, with females browner than males?

39.   Which grosbeak is the most likely in the winter?  (All are rare.)

40.    Which 2 tanager species most frequently turn up on CBC's?



41.    Which oriole is most likely to be seen on a CBC?

42.    Which common locally-breeding hummingbird is almost unknown in the winter?

43.    Which Catharus thrush (the ones with spotted breasts) is the only one possible on a CBC?

44.    Which 3 hawks (2 common, 1 not so common) are known to hover in the air searching for prey?

45.    Which goldeneye (duck) is more likely on a CBC?

46.    Which loon is most likely on the northeastern CBC?

47.    Besides Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, which two other Buteo  species are most likely to occur on a CBC?

48.    Which merganser is most likely on the coastal CBC?

49.    Which 2 terns are most common on CBC's?

 50.    Which 2 Empidonax flycatchers occur most frequently on CBC's?


TO SEE THE ANSWERS TO THE CBC QUIZ:  click here.


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