June 2020

Online Bird Quizzes

Not only is the web a vast source of information and learning, but it is also full of fun ways to test that knowledge once it's acquired, particularly for birders. Birding quizzes abound, from simple beginners' photo ID tests with sharp images to difficult questions of range, song, and accurate interpretation of out-of-focus photographs taken from odd angles. There are so many available, that during normal times the list below would have been broken into several articles. With the hope that this will prove yet another resource for virtual birding in a time of relative isolation, they are all presented here, with a basic description only, and minimal commentary.

Not surprisingly, Cornell Lab and Audubon offer several basic, entry-level or sample challenges, reflecting their fundamental commitment to encouraging newcomers. Cornell's Bird Academy has posted a brief Waterfowl Sample[1], while Aubudon's Christmas Bird Count gives a short Beginner ID[2] quiz. Cornell also provides a song/sonogram tutorial in the form of a Bird Song Hero Video Quiz[3].

Ramping up the variety and quantity, Birdwatchers Digest[4] has over 70 extensive tests of knowledge from feeder birds to global endemics, in no particular order. The Sibley Guides website, in contrast, arranges his series of quizzes[5] (a Favorite) of great complexity and sophistication in an easy-to-follow organization, like the justly famous guides themselves.

A unique set of custom photo/sound quizzes[6], built on each participant's choices of location and date, has been created by Cornell to help curate Macauly Library sound quality. Quiz takers must log in with a Cornell/eBird account, unlike the American Birding Association challenges, which are open even to non-members. These deliberately difficult ID puzzles [7](you'll see - try the Terns!) have been published monthly since 2018 and the entire collection is available in one location on their website.

Amazingly, the quiz opportunities get even better! In a heroic individual effort, with encyclopedic photo galleries and multiple choice by categories, BirdQuiz.net[8] shows what even non-institutional birders can accomplish given time and dedication. And, if they have coding expertise, they can also produce a gem like BirdingQuiz.com[9], with comprehensive global database quizzes, using self-selected categories, ranges, etc. that simply must be seen to be believed.

To finish this list - and likely none of us will finish all these challenges - are two sets from Colorado and South Dakota. Don't be misled, these both are based on broad geographical parameters. With nearly 500 photos in its quiz encompassing the entire ABA area, the multi-year collection from the Colorado Field Ornithologists[10] website is often fiendishly difficult. And, lastly, remarkable for its breadth and depth, the set of quizzes from South Dakota nature photographer Terry Sohl[11] includes not only "easy" through "hard" photo challenges (female birds, anyone?) but range map quizzes (medium to hard) and scientific names (all hard!) As a follow-up to April's Birding Ethics article, read the description of what Nature Photography Done Naturally[12] means to Terry Sohl, and let all the other quiz photos referenced in this month's compendium take that test!

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article on the beginning of each month.

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